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IMC 2016: Sessions

Session 233: New Directions in the Study of Women Religious, I: Staging the Identities of Women Religious

Monday 4 July 2016, 14.15-15.45

Sponsor:Journal of Medieval Monastic Studies (JMMS) / History of Women Religious of Britain & Ireland (HWRBI) / Henri Pirenne Institute for Medieval Studies, Universiteit Gent / Religion & Society in the Early & Central Middle Ages (ReSoMa), Universiteit Gent
Organisers:Kimm Curran, History Lab+, Institute of Historical Research, University of London
Kirsty Day, Institute for Medieval Studies / School of History, University of Leeds
Steven Vanderputten, Vakgroep Geschiedenis, Universiteit Gent
Moderator/Chair:Kimm Curran, History Lab+, Institute of Historical Research, University of London
Paper 233-aRepresentations of Female Abbatial Leadership in 9th- to 11th-Century Saxony
(Language: English)
Jirki Thibaut, Vakgroep Geschiedenis, Universiteit Gent / KU Leuven
Index terms: Gender Studies, Monasticism, Religious Life
Paper 233-bEmbodying Faith: Eugenia and Æthelthryth in the Monastery
(Language: English)
Abigail G. Robertson, Department of English Language & Literature, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque
Index terms: Gender Studies, Hagiography, Language and Literature - Old English, Monasticism

Although performativity as a methodological framework has long been used by scholars of gender in the Middle Ages with rich results, it has rarely been used in an explicit way to explore the identities of female religious. The papers in this session take innovative approaches towards the performance of identity by women religious from the early to late Middle Ages. The first paper takes a new approach to abbatial leadership - discussion of which is often restricted to evidence of male religious - in 9th- to 11th-century Saxony, by exploring how abbesses performed their own roles as leaders of religious communities, and how societal expectations shaped the way in which they did so. The second highlights the importance of materiality in Anglo-Saxon saints' lives, by demonstrating that the female body was used performatively in these texts as way of communicating orthodox faith. The third discusses how the staging of Easter cycle plays in Irish Dominican convents in Spain transformed the convent space into theatres, how far the nuns living in the convents themselves shaped the space in this way, and how the use of convents as theatres created social bonds between the convent and the wider community.