IMC 2018: Sessions

Session 213: Women as Letter Writers and Scribes

Monday 2 July 2018, 14.15-15.45

Moderator/Chair:Rachel E. Moss, Université de Paris I
Paper 213-aMargaret Paston's Letters Changing or Not Changing: A Pragmatic Approach in the Analysis of Characters of the Topics in Her Letters
(Language: English)
Osamu Ohara, Department of English, Jikei University School of Medicine, Tokyo
Index terms: Computing in Medieval Studies, Daily Life, Language and Literature - Middle English, Women's Studies
Paper 213-bIn memoriam: The Selwerd Scribe, c. 1470-1490
(Language: English)
Merlijn Lotte Krommenhoek, Independent Scholar, Rouveen
Index terms: Lay Piety, Manuscripts and Palaeography, Women's Studies
Paper 213-c'How onkynde so euer I haue ben…let me know your mynde': Grievances Remembered, Kindnesses Manipulated, and Charities Sought - Emergence of Female Memory and Identity in Middle English Material Culture
(Language: English)
Kenna L. Olsen, Department of English, Mount Royal University, Alberta
Index terms: Language and Literature - Middle English, Literacy and Orality, Manuscripts and Palaeography, Women's Studies

Paper -a:
Margaret Paston never hesitated to express herself in her letters to her husband and sons, though she dictated all of them to others and could not expect any private communication. For example, in her letter no.125 in Davis (1971), all the lines except for the opening and closing remarks were concerning the matters which had something to do with herself. However, 7 years and 4 months later, no. 133, Davis (1971) included no private matters of hers. Changed circumstances around the Pastons have to be considered as a reason for this change, though I think Margaret herself had not basically changed. In this paper, I classify the contents in her letters according to the characters of their topics and analyse each of them from the stylistic viewpoint. A pragmatic approach is made use of in order to draw the conclusion.

Paper -b:
Although her identity is still unknown, she survives through her work. In a Benedictine convent in Selwerd, near the Dutch city of Groningen, a female scribe worked on copying books of hours for two decades (c. 1470-1490). A grand total of thirteen manuscripts have been attributed to this so-called Selwerd scribe and through a detailed study, specifics in her working method have been discovered.

Paper -c:
How was reading in the Middle English material culture influenced by encountering specific artefacts of memorialisation – women’s names? By examining two late Middle English letters by women (unpublished and holograph), this paper explores medieval women’s emergences and intentions of memory. As agents in the Middle English writing culture, both women (one a wife, one a widow) perform remembrance; both use acts of material memory as attempts to manipulate and manoeuvre the intended recipients’ character recall. This discussion of women’s writings explores the relationship between reading memory and writing power, and the emergence via materiality (and in essence negating orality/aurality) of writing medieval English female identities.