Winston-Allen, Anne 1942–

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Winston-Allen, Anne 1942–


Born November 29, 1942. Education: University of Kansas, Ph.D., 1979.


Office—Department of Foreign Language and Literatures, Southern Illinois University, Faner Hall 2162, MC 4521, Carbondale, IL 62901-4521. E-mail—[email protected]


Academic. Phillips University, Enid, OK, assistant professor, 1980-85, associate professor, 1986-91; Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, lecturer, 1991-93, assistant professor, 1994-98, associate professor of German, 1998—, German section head of the department, 2006—. DAAD graduate research fellow, University of Munich, 1973-74; summer research fellow, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, 1995.


Stories of the Rose: The Making of the Rosary in the Middle Ages, Pennsylvania State University Press (University Park, PA), 1997.

Convent Chronicles: Women Writing about Women and Reform in the Late Middle Ages, Pennsylvania State University Press (University Park, PA), 2004.

Contributor to periodicals and academic journals, including Zeitschrift für Mittlere Deutsche Literatur, Speculum, American Journal of Semiotics, Month, Neuphilologische Mitteilungen, German Quarterly, Schatzkammer, Medium Aevum, and ADFL Bulletin.


Anne Winston-Allen is an academic whose research interests revolve around German literature. She published her first book, Stories of the Rose: The Making of the Rosary in the Middle Ages, in 1997. In the book she looks at the origins of the rosary and how the practice survived through the Middle Ages and the Reformation. Reviewing the book in Library Journal, Eugene O. Bowser found the account to be "a comprehensive, integrative investigation that should appeal to all interested in Catholic religious practice." Lawrence S. Cunningham, writing in Commonweal, observed that in this "tightly argued book … Winston-Allen investigates the extant vernacular literature, picture books, and artistic iconography to disentangle the long history of the development of the rosary and its enormous popularity as a devotional device on the eve of the Reformation. By a careful, indeed somewhat tedious examination of these sources, she develops some interesting observations about the relationship of prayer to visual texts and their ritual use." Cunningham offered that "what interested me most was the author's argument that the development of the rosary and rosary confraternities was linked to church reform on the eve of the Reformation." Cunningham also suggested that "Winston-Allen is also quite good, if somewhat rushed, in her discussion of how the term ‘rose’ and its derivatives were linked to the most loved biblical book of medieval spirituality: The Song of Songs."

Booklist contributor Kathleen Hughes said that "this fascinating history provides not only much detail but also valuable insight" into the rosary's appeal. William C. Graham described the book as "a well-researched and interesting text" in an article in the National Catholic Reporter. Sara M. Butler, writing in the Canadian Journal of History, commented that "as a study of her bibliography demonstrates, the history of the rosary has to date been examined chiefly by German scholars. Winston-Allen brings this meaningful aspect of lay piety to the attention of English historians in a style that is readily accessible to both the academic and popular audiences," concluding that "the beauty of the volume in its artwork and poetry alone makes it a pleasant investigation of an important aspect of lay piety." Norman Tanner, writing in the Journal of Ecclesiastical History, remarked that "while generally appreciative, Winston-Allen keeps her critical sense" throughout "this excellent survey," concluding that "this carefully researched and very well-illustrated study is much recommended."

In 2004 Winston-Allen published her second book, Convent Chronicles: Women Writing about Women andReform in the Late Middle Ages. The account examines the views of women of the church and how they perceived religion and its reforms in the Late Middle Ages. Win Whelan, writing on Catholic Books Review, commented that "it would have been good to hear more from the sisters themselves. Winston-Allen quotes some of the writings, but perhaps space did not allow her to include many more translations. Since the sisters' own writings are the focus of the book, it would seem better to hear from them directly." Whelan nonetheless praised the author, noting that "as a whole, however, this book is a captivating insight into convent women's lives in the 1400s and 1500s." Jennifer L. Welsh, writing on H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online, found that the book "demonstrates how crucial economic and financial issues were to the relationship between convents and their communities." Welsh mentioned that the book "serves to fill the strange gap in previous research between medieval female mystics and women in the sixteenth century. What makes this book an invaluable contribution to the field is its status not only as ‘the first [study] to survey nuns' convent chronicles and historical writings collectively across orders and regions in the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries,’ but also the depth and breadth of Winston-Allen's work." Welsh observed that "throughout the book, Winston-Allen engages both her primary sources as well as the full range of historiography, from Victorian writers who accepted satirical descriptions of ‘convent cats’ as historically accurate to more recent feminist historians who have lamented the lack of female agency and voice."

Judith Sutera, writing in the National Catholic Reporter, opined that the author "takes the reader beyond the few well-known writers of a mostly earlier time, such as Hildegard of Bingen, to explore the writings of many women whose lives were influential in ways large and small." She noted that "this book is no grand defense of all religious life. Sections deal realistically with the need for reform and the validity of some of the accusations of reformers." Sutera also pointed out that "there are many incidents related in this book that will evoke recognition by today's religious." Alison I. Beach, writing in the Catholic Historical Review, remarked that the book "complicates the common image of women as unwilling ‘recipients’ or passive ‘victims’ of male agents of Observant reform." Beach also claimed that it would assuredly "be difficult to read Convent Chronicles and walk away without agreeing that past efforts at telling the story of the Observant reform movement have suffered from the omission of the women's voices that Anne Winston-Allen seeks to integrate."

Elizabeth A. Petroff, writing in Church History, commented that "this remarkable study of convent chronicles from Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Belgium, and the Netherlands lets women in the Observant reform of the late Middle Ages tell their own stories." Petroff noted that "extending the recent scholarship on the sister-books, the beguine world, and nuns' garden allegories, she makes accessible dozens of women-authored texts: prayer anthologies, cloister dramas, sermon collections, meditative allegories that can now be studied as part of real cities of ladies in the European Renaissance and Reformation." Phyllis Zagano, reviewing the book in Theological Studies, observed that the "section on the women of the reform gives voice as well to the opponents of reform and enclosure, speaking to the natural feminine rejection of the either-or fallacy so often imposed by men: either wife or cloistered nun." In conclusion, Zagano stated that Winston-Allen has "created a work of scholarship that specialists and others can refer to for engaging detail on the lives of [religious] medieval women."



American Historical Review, December 1, 1998, Thomas F.X. Noble, review of Stories of the Rose: The Making of the Rosary in the Middle Ages, p. 1577.

Booklist, July 1, 1997, Kathleen Hughes, review of Stories of the Rose, p. 1779.

Canadian Journal of History, April 1, 1999, Sara M. Butler, review of Stories of the Rose, p. 91.

Catholic Historical Review, January 1, 2006, Alison I. Beach, review of Convent Chronicles: Women Writing about Women and Reform in the Late Middle Ages, p. 116.

Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, December 1, 1997, review of Stories of the Rose, p. 650; July 1, 2005, C.S. Cox, review of Convent Chronicles.

Church History, June 1, 1998, John R. Sommerfeldt, review of Stories of the Rose, p. 364; September 1, 2006, Elizabeth A. Petroff, review of Convent Chronicles, p. 660.

Commonweal, January 16, 1998, Lawrence S. Cunningham, review of Stories of the Rose, p. 24.

History: The Journal of the Historical Association, January 1, 1999, Andrew Brown, review of Stories of the Rose, p. 145.

Journal of Ecclesiastical History, January 1, 1999, Norman Tanner, review of Stories of the Rose, p. 149.

Journal of English and Germanic Philology, July 1, 2007, Marianne Kalinke, review of Convent Chronicles, p. 369.

Journal of Gender Studies, March 1, 2006, Saskia Murk Jansen, review of Convent Chronicles, p. 88.

Journal of Religion, July 1, 1999, Rachel Fulton, review of Stories of the Rose, p. 469; October 1, 2006, Sara S. Poor, review of Convent Chronicles, p. 680.

Library Journal, June 1, 1997, Eugene O. Bowser, review of Stories of the Rose, p. 106.

National Catholic Reporter, February 6, 1998, William C. Graham, review of Stories of the Rose, p. 40; February 25, 2005, Judith Sutera, review of Convent Chronicles, p. 5.

Sixteenth Century Journal, September 22, 1998, Larissa Juliet Taylor, review of Stories of the Rose, p. 891; June 22, 2006, Charlotte Woodford, review of Convent Chronicles, p. 579.

Speculum: A Journal of Medieval Studies, July 1, 1999, Mary S. Skinner, review of Stories of the Rose, p. 857; July 1, 2006, Alison Frazier, review of Convent Chronicles, p. 937.

Theological Studies, June 1, 2006, Phyllis Zagano, review of Convent Chronicles, p. 420.


Catholic Books Review, (June 17, 2008), Win Whelan, review of Convent Chronicles.

H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online, (May, 2006), Jennifer L. Welsh, review of Convent Chronicles.

Southern Illinois University Web site, (June 17, 2008), author profile.

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Winston-Allen, Anne 1942–

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