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IMC 2015: Sessions

Session 732: Nuns' Literacies in Medieval Europe: Rules and Reform

Tuesday 7 July 2015, 14.15-15.45

Sponsor:Andrew Marvell Centre for Medieval & Early Modern Studies, University of Hull / Department of History, University of Sydney
Organiser:Patricia Stoop, Faculteit Letteren en Wijsbegeerte / Ruusbroecgenootschap, Universiteit Antwerpen
Moderator/Chair:Veronica O'Mara, School of Arts - English, University of Hull
Paper 732-aWomen's Education and Literacy during the Ottonian Reforms
(Language: English)
Helene Scheck, Department of English, State University of New York, Albany
Index terms: Literacy and Orality, Monasticism, Religious Life, Women's Studies
Paper 732-bDouble Monasteries and Vernacular Literacy: Reading and Writing in the Order of Sempringham
(Language: English)
Katharine Sykes, St Edmund Hall, University of Oxford
Index terms: Literacy and Orality, Monasticism, Religious Life, Women's Studies
Paper 732-cThe Collettine Observant Reform and Literate Practice in St Collette's Rule and Constitution
(Language: English)
Julie Ann Smith, Department of History, University of Sydney
Index terms: Literacy and Orality, Monasticism, Religious Life, Women's Studies

It has become something of a commonplace that ecclesiastical reform negatively affected conditions for women and restricted their roles in the Church. This session aims to achieve a more nuanced understanding by considering the different ways in which monastic rules and reforming movements promoted female literacy in various orders and in different periods in Europe. Paper -a examines books owned or produced in the major Ottonian women’s communities in light of the negotiations between secular and ecclesiastical authorities that characterize the Ottonian reforms of the 10th and early 11th centuries. Paper -b explores the relationship between reform and vernacular literacy in the Gilbertine Order of Sempringham. Traditionally, the translation of texts from Latin into Middle English has been seen as a symptom of declining educational standards within the Order in the later medieval period, yet the Gilbertine Rule prohibited the nuns of the Order from speaking in Latin from an early date and so points to more complex relationships between reform, vernacular literature, and female literacy. Paper -c concentrates on how the monastic reformer, St Collette (1381–1447), sought to re-establish the strict Clarian Rule, and supplemented it with her own Constitution. The Collettine Reform is thus located within the Observant Reform Movement, but more particularly, casts light on literate practice for the Collettine Sisters.