Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index

Article of the Month

Indexers select an article or essay at the beginning of each month that is outstanding in its line of argument, wealth of significances, and writing style. We particularly look for pieces that will be useful as course readings.

December 2022

Meister des Frankfurter Paradiesgärtleins
Upper Rhenish Master, The Little Garden of Paradise, 1410-1420, German, Frankfurt, Städel Museum (Source: Wikimedia Commons, Public domain)small>

Dempsey, Karen. "Tending the 'Contested' Castle Garden: Sowing Seeds of Feminist Thought." Cambridge Archaeological Journal 31, 2 (2021): 265-279. Available open access from the publisher, Cambridge University Press

Abstract: "Medieval women are typically portrayed as secluded, passive agents within castle studies. Although the garden is regarded as associated with women there has been little exploration of this space within medieval archaeology. In this paper, a new methodological framework is used to demonstrate how female agency can be explored in the context of the lived experience of the medieval garden. In particular, this study adopts a novel approach by focusing on relict plants at some medieval castles in Britain and Ireland. Questions are asked about the curation of these plants and the associated social practices of elite women, including their expressions of material piety, during the later medieval period. This provides a way of questioning the 'sacrality' of medieval gardening which noblewomen arguably used as a devotional practice and as a means to further their own bodily agency through sympathetic medicine." — [Reproduced from the article page in Cambridge Core]