Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index


  • Record Number: 8083
  • Author(s)/Creator(s): Mecham , June L.
  • Contributor(s):
  • Title: Reading Between the Lines: Compilation, Variation, and the Recovery of an Authentic Female Voice in the "Dornenkron" Prayer Books from Wienhausen
  • Source: Journal of Medieval History 29, 2 (June 2003): Pages 109 - 128.
  • Description:
  • Article Type: Journal Article
  • Subject (See Also): Compilation Devotional Practices Dornenkron, German Meditation on Christ's Passion Ecclesiastical Reform Jesus Christ- Passion in Literature Manuscripts Monasticism Prayerbooks Scribes and Scriptoria Spirituality Wienhausen, Niedersachsen, Germany- Cister
  • Geographic Area: Germany
  • Century: 15
  • Related Resources:
  • Primary Evidence: Manuscript; 1) Wienhausen, Klosterarchiv, Handschrift 31. The "Dornenkron" is written in Middle Low German, and the manuscript is bound with vellum covers taken from a liturgical work. Probably dating from 1470-1500.2) Wienhausen, Klosterarchiv, Handschrift 60. Also
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  • Abstract: In medieval studies, the personal ownership and use of spiritual works by cloistered women as well as their participation in book production remain largely terra ignota. Apart from the lives and works of a few outstanding individuals who achieved recognition as saints and/or mystics, scholars know little about the devotional concerns and spiritual practices of ordinary medieval nuns. The current image of female spirituality thus relies primarily on the experiences of extraordinary women, while questions about what nuns read and how they prayed still remain. In order to address this issue, it is necessary to also ask: can authentic women's voices and spiritual concerns be recovered without the distortion caused by the cura monialium? Three prayer books from the former Cistercian convent of Wienhausen in Lower Saxony illustrate the devotional concerns of ordinary nuns as well as provide evidence of female involvement in book production. Recounting the meditative prayer of the Dornenkron, these manuscripts reveal the nuns' individual spiritual concerns through their variations in content and composition. Produced in the wake of a spiritual revival emerging from the convent's initially un-wanted reform in 1469, these works indicate how the religious women of this community actively shaped their private devotions within the context of sweeping monastic reform. Detailed scrutiny of these prayer books, a careful reading between the lines, indicates that individual spiritual concerns and personal choices influenced the composition of each nun's work.
  • Author's Affiliation: University of Kansas, Lawrence.
  • Conference Info: - , -
  • Year of Publication: 2003.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN/ISBN: 03044181
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