Waters, Claire M.
Waters, Claire M.
Education: Harvard University, A.B., 1991; University of Cambridge, M.Phil., 1993; Northwestern University, Ph.D., 1998.
Writer and educator. University of California, Davis, associate professor of English, 2001—.
Fulbright fellow, 1992-93; Virgil B. Heltzel Dissertation Year fellow, 1996-97; University of California President's Research fellow, 2004-05.
Member of the editorial board of the Broadview Anthology of British Literature.
Claire M. Waters received her bachelor's degree from Harvard University in 1991, followed by her M.A. from the University of Cambridge in 1993 and her Ph.D. from Northwestern University in 1998. She specializes in medieval literature and has taught such classes as "Troilus, Criseyde, and the Undead Past" and "Otherworldly Visions and Visits to the Afterlife in Medieval Literature," at the University of New Mexico and the University of California, Davis. Waters is also a member of the editorial board of the Broadview Anthology of British Literature.
Angels and Earthly Creatures: Preaching, Performance, and Gender in the Later Middle Ages, published in 2004 by the University of Pennsylvania Press, explores gender politics, boundaries, and the ideologi- cal conflicts that operated within religious occupations during the medieval period. Carolyn A. Muessig, writing for the Catholic Historical Review, noted the text's interdisciplinary approach and stated that Waters "crosses boundaries between Chaucerian scholarship, gender studies, and sermon studies." Angels and Earthly Creatures details the male-dominated Christian clergy and provides "a close reading of how clerical men may have unintentionally aided in the creation of a space for women's preaching by allowing exceptional women to preach under exceptional circumstances," according to a review in the Journal of Religion by Raymond Clemens. Waters uses sermons, Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, and fabliaux as reference material, and Clemens noted that the text "is remarkable in the range of sources employed and the attention paid to each genre and work in its cultural context" and the "writing is clear and complex, employing critical theory in meaningful ways without resorting to the sort of language that obfuscates rather than reveals the author's intention." Although Journal of Ecclesiastical History reviewer R.N. Swanson stated that the narrative is "often suggestive rather than demonstrative," Swanson acknowledged that it also puts forth "a serious analysis" of "how ecclesiastical culture worked against female participation in preaching." Waters details the paradoxical identity of the preacher as both divine emissary and flawed mortal and the ideological beliefs that excluded females from Christian clerical participation. Moreover, Catherine Allen Smith, in an essay for Church History, concluded: "Although Waters's primary audience is scholars of medieval preaching, and her interpretive bent is decidedly literary, her study has the virtue of bringing together a number of subfields usually pursued in relative isolation from one another, with the result that those interested in medieval constructions of gender, religion, literature, and rhetoric will alike find Angels and Earthly Creatures well worth reading."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Catholic Historical Review, October 1, 2004, Carolyn A. Muessig, review of Angels and Earthly Creatures: Preaching, Performance, and Gender in the Later Middle Ages, p. 776.
Choice, September 1, 2004, D.P. King, review of Angels and Earthly Creatures, p. 122.
Church History, March 1, 2006, Katherine Allen Smith, review of Angels and Earthly Creatures, p. 179.
Journal of Ecclesiastical History, January 1, 2005, R.N. Swanson, review of Angels and Earthly Creatures, p. 145.
Journal of Religion, April 1, 2006, Raymond Clemens, review of Angels and Earthly Creatures, p. 320.
Medieval Review, January 1, 2005, Nancy Bradley Warren, review of Angels and Earthly Creatures.
Theological Studies, June 1, 2006, Frederick J. McGinness, review of Angels and Earthly Creatures, p. 460.
University of California, Davis, Department of English, Web site,http://www.english.ucdavis.edu/ (May 12, 2008), faculty profile.