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IMC 2019: Sessions

Session 1532: Debating Identities, Creating Communities: Materialities of Female Monastic Reform in the Medieval West, I - Manuscript and Architecture

Thursday 4 July 2019, 09.00-10.30

Sponsor:Religion & Society in the Early & Central Middle Ages (ReSoMa) / Henri Pirenne Institute for Medieval Studies, Universiteit Gent
Organisers:Julie Hotchin, School of History, Australian National University, Canberra
Jirki Thibaut, Vakgroep Geschiedenis, Universiteit Gent / KU Leuven
Moderator/Chair:Jirki Thibaut, Vakgroep Geschiedenis, Universiteit Gent / KU Leuven
Paper 1532-aRe-Examining the Role of Women in the Hirsau Reform through the Lens of Material Culture
(Language: English)
Alison Beach, Abteilung Mittelalterliche Geschichte, Universit├Ąt Trier
Index terms: Gender Studies, Monasticism, Religious Life
Paper 1532-bThe Materiality of Female Religious Reform in 12th-Century Ireland
(Language: English)
Tracy Collins, Aegis Archaeology Ltd, Limerick
Index terms: Archaeology - General, Gender Studies, Monasticism, Religious Life
Paper 1532-cBuilding Community: Material Concerns in the 15th-Century Monastic Reform
(Language: English)
Jennifer C. Edwards, Department of History, Manhattan College, New York
Index terms: Architecture - General, Gender Studies, Monasticism, Religious Life

Research in the last two decades has reoriented our understanding of how reform occurred in female monasticism, alongside the tremendous progress into understanding the contingent nature of monastic reform. This includes research into the visual, material and manuscript cultures of female communities that has demonstrated how women religious employed various media to creatively reflect, individually and collectively, on their institutional and spiritual orientation. Nevertheless, despite the considerable merits of these studies, the main narrative is still primarily based on textual sources. Drawing on the material culture of reform, these three sessions will offer new interpretations into the processes and expressions of institutional, liturgical and spiritual change within female religious communities over the period c. 950-1500, extending narratives based primarily on textual sources.

In the first of three sessions, speakers focus on the reception of reform ideals as expressed in manuscript compilations and architectural forms. Katie Bugyis examines two manuscripts from the female community at Leominster that demonstrate how nun-scribes interpreted, adapted and preserved liturgical and prayer texts. Processes of selection and compilation reveal aspects of how reform ideals were negotiated and adopted. Tracy Collins turns to the archaeological record of men and women in co-located houses in Ireland as evidence for a distinctive regional response to reform in the 12th century. Jennifer Edwards discusses how internal debates about reform in the 15th-century community of Fontevraud focussed on the architectural forms of the community, and the ideals and practice of monastic spatial arrangements.