Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index


  • Record Number: 2996
  • Author(s)/Creator(s): Lifshitz , Felice.
  • Contributor(s):
  • Title: Gender and Exemplarity East of the Middle Rhine: Jesus, Mary, and the Saints in Manuscript Context
  • Source: Early Medieval Europe 9, 3 ( 2000): Pages 325 - 343.
  • Description:
  • Article Type: Journal Article
  • Subject (See Also): Bible Exegesis Gender in Literature Gregory I the Great, Pope, Saint- Homiliae in Evangelica Hagiography Latin Literature Manuscripts Martyrs Mary, Virgin, Saint in Literature Sermons
  • Geographic Area: Germany
  • Century: 8
  • Related Resources:
  • Primary Evidence: Manuscript; 1) Würzburg, Universitätsbibliothek, M.p.th.f.45. Produced in a women's scriptorium, circa 750. Contains Book II of Gregory the Great's "Homilies on the Gospels."2) Würzburg, Universitätsbibliothek, M.p.th.q.28b. Produced in the same women's scriptorium,
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  • Abstract: The available source material for the intellectual, religious, and cultural history of the Rhine-Main region in the eighth century is outstanding, due to the many surviving manuscripts produced in this region during that time period. In this paper I demonstrate how a historically contextualised analysis of the manuscript evidence can lead to a significant re-evaluation of gender ideology in an early medieval society. The manuscript evidence allows us to investigate the reception and adaptation of inherited gender models by male and female religious communities, and illuminates the cultural significance to eighth-century male and female readers of heroines assigned to the earliest days of the Church. Comparison of three manuscripts which can be allocated to male and female communities--two containing exegetical material penned by Gregory the Great and read liturgically for dominical and martyr festivals, the third Marian writings and the "passiones" of four female martyrs--demonstrates the importance of gender identification in the reception of this material. Writers and copyists in one community of religious women in the Rhine-Main region in the eighth century were concerned to present both Roman martyrs and Biblical women as positive models for women without reference to hierarchical notions of gender. Mary, for example, is put forward as a 'new Eve' who has freed women of every estate (not just virgins) from the curse of Eve, whilst the commemoration of female martyrs--fully human figures who were temporally and geographically less remote than Mary and biblical models--further strengthened the egalitarian message provided by this exegesis. A proper understanding of gender identities, and of the meanings of the cult of the Roman martyrs, in the early middle ages can only proceed from this type of properly contextualised analysis. [Reprinted by permission of Blackwell Publishers at www.blackwellpublishers.co.uk].
  • Author's Affiliation: Florida International University
  • Conference Info: - , -
  • Year of Publication: 2000.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN/ISBN: 09639462
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