2 to 5 pm, ten Thursdays (Thanksgiving excluded)
This course will examine the relationship between gender, sex differences, and politics—defined broadly—in medieval Europe, exploring the ways in which systems of power mapped onto perceived sex differences and bolstered, reproduced, or authenticated those systems. Through a close reading of political treatises, sermons, mystical literature, and church decrees, we will evaluate the ways in which gendered discourses supported or weakened institutional, political, and religious authority, even in situations that seemingly had nothing to do with “real” women. Thus, our investigations will move beyond “exceptional” women who exercised political power (for example royal and noblewomen), illuminating the effects of gendered symbols and discourses on institutions or spaces from which real women were increasingly marginalized (for example royal authority) or completely excluded (for example the medieval university). In this way, this course will take up the challenge of Joan Scott’s influential historiographical essay “Gender: A Useful Category of Historical Analysis.” Nevertheless, we will not lose sight of the effects gendered constructs and discourses had on real women, nor the specific strategies women employed to manipulate or subvert the systems and institutions that limited their agency.
Prerequisites: None, although the instructor prefers that students work with texts that they can read in the original language whenever possible.
Learn more about the instructor: Tanya Stabler Miller, Loyola University Chicago.
Students may take this seminar on a not-for-credit basis or arrange to earn credit at their home campuses. When space permits, consortium faculty members are encouraged to audit Newberry seminars, and graduate students from non-consortium schools may also enroll.
Faculty and graduate students of Center for Renaissance Studies consortium institutions may be eligible to apply for travel funds to attend CRS programs or to do research at the Newberry. Each member university sets its own policies and deadlines; contact your Representative Council member in advance for details.