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Jocelyn Wogan-Browne, Fordham University

4 p.m., Monday, February 28, McCune Conference Room

Economies of Grace: Counting Female Piety in Medieval Britain

For over four hundred years, French was a major language of literature and culture and of documentation and record in medieval Britain. In literature alone, nearly a thousand texts
have been catalogued (many still unedited): administrative, mercantile, legal and other
records also exist in vast quantity. But this corpus has suffered from nineteenth-century
nationalising literary histories constructing it as English to the French and French to the
English. Attention to the French of England revises, for example, women's literary history
in medieval England: women write, commission, and form important audiences from the twelfth to the fifteenth centuries, not (as in the Middle English record) only from the later fourteenth century on. As part of an ongoing exploration of continuities and disruptions in a French-inclusive account of literary history in England, this paper looks at thirteenth-century penitential models of female selfhood in the francophone literaturefollowing Lateran IV and at women's books. It considers modes of ordinatio in these texts together with contemporary models of social order and suggests that alongside older romance models for 'the discovery of the individual', there are other ways in which women and theirtexts are present in the literary history of thirteenth-century England.

Sponsored by Medieval Studies, IHC, English, Religious Studies, French & Italian, Women's Studies

 

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