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IMC 2019: Sessions

Session 1632: Debating Identities, Creating Communities: Materialities of Female Monastic Reform in the Medieval West, II - Representing Identity and Spiritual Authority

Thursday 4 July 2019, 11.15-12.45

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:Tracy Collins, Aegis Archaeology Ltd, Limerick
Paper 1632-aRituals and Identity: Liturgical Culture in Female Monastic Life in 10th-Century Saxony
(Language: English)
Jirki Thibaut, Vakgroep Geschiedenis, Universiteit Gent / KU Leuven
Index terms: Gender Studies, Monasticism, Religious Life
Paper 1632-bVisualising Gender and Spiritual Authority in Liturgical Textiles in 12th-Century Germany
(Language: English)
Julie Hotchin, School of History, Australian National University, Canberra
Vera Henkelmann, Independent Scholar, Eschweiler
Index terms: Art History - Decorative Arts, Gender Studies, Monasticism, Religious Life
Paper 1632-cWho Made Reform Visible?: Male and Female Agency in Changing Visual Culture
(Language: English)
Katharina Ulrike Mersch, Historisches Seminar - Mittelalterliche Geschichte, Goethe-Universit├Ąt, Frankfurt am Main
Index terms: Art History - 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 second session, speakers explore how female communities negotiated ideas about reform and expressed themselves in words and images. Jirki Thibaut considers the written evidence of how 11th-century female communities (re)shaped and expressed their institutional identity and observance in periods of transition. Julie Hotchin and Vera Henkelmann examine a textile fragment produced in the Halberstadt region in the mid-12th century as evidence for how male and female spiritual authority was depicted in reformed monastic circles in northern Germany. Lastly, Katharina Mersch focuses on the question of who represented reform within a community, female religious or their spiritual advisors, teasing out the extent to which female agents influenced the material and visual expressions of reform in the 15th century.