Women and Women's Writings from Antiquity Through the Middle Ages: Further Reading

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Antonopoulos, Anna. "The Double Meaning of Hestia: Gender, Spirituality, and Signification in Antiquity." Women and Language 16, no. 1 (spring 1993): 1-6.

Semiotic study of the Greek goddess of the hearth, Hestia, which suggests she may represent an "omphalos" (navel) symbol that stands in opposition to the phallus.

Arens, Katherine. "Between Hypatia and Beauvoir: Philosophy as Discourse." Hypatia 10, no. 4 (fall 1995): 46-75.

Compares literary interpretations of two female philosophers, one modern, Simone de Beauvoir, and the other classical, Hypatia, in order to explore the constraints placed upon feminine philosophical discourse.

Bar On, Bat-Ami, ed. Engendering Origins: Critical Feminist Readings in Plato and Aristotle. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1994, 248 p.

Collection of twelve essays by various contributors featuring feminist approaches to the writings of Plato and Aristotle on the subjects of women and philosophy.

Black, Nancy B. "Woman as Savior: The Virgin Mary and Empress of Rome in Gautier de Coinci's Miracles." Romanic Review 88, no. 4 (November 1997): 503-17.

Considers thirteenth-century Benedictine monk Gautier de Coinci's depiction of the empress of Rome as a saintly spiritual figure akin to the Virgin Mary in his collection Miracles de Nostre Dame.

Blamires, Alcuin. Introduction to Woman Defamed and Woman Defended: An Anthology of Medieval Texts, edited by Alcuin Blamires, pp. 1–16. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992.

Presents an overview of the sources and themes of antifeminism in the literature of the Middle Ages.

Bremmer, Jan N. "Gender." In Greek Religion, pp. 69-83. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994.

Details the daily and ritual life of women in ancient Greece, considering in particular a number of religious festivals reserved exclusively for women.

Brosius, Maria. Women in Ancient Persia, 559-331 B.C. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996, 258 p.

Studies Greek perceptions of Persian women in Achaemenid Persia (559-331 B.C.), examining social customs and rituals, especially among the aristocracy.

Cameron, Alan, and Jacqueline Long. "Hypatia." In Barbarians and Politics at the Court of Arcardius, pp. 39-62. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993.

Chronicles the life and teachings of the Alexandrian philosopher and mathematician Hypatia, observing her active role in the public life of fourth-century Roman Egypt.

Cartwright, Jane. "Dead Virgins: Feminine Sanctity in Medieval Wales." Medium Aevum 71, no. 1 (spring 2002): 1-28.

Compiles biographical and historical evidence concerning female Welsh saints of the fifth, sixth, and seventh centuries, noting that their stories typically focus on humane acts and efforts to maintain their own chastity.

Castelli, Elizabeth A. "Gender, Theory, and the Rise of Christianity: A Response to Rodney Stark." Journal of Early Christian Studies 6, no. 2 (1998): 227-57.

Illuminates the role of women in the spread of Roman Christianity during the early centuries of the modern era, claiming that evidence of the social benefits of Christianity for women during this period is relatively thin.

Chadwick, Whitney. "The Middle Ages." In Women, Art, and Society, pp. 37-58. London: Thames and Hudson, 1990.

Surveys the role of women as artists and scholars in the Middle Ages, with particular emphasis on Herrad of Landsberg's encyclopedic Hortus Deliciarum and Hildegard of Bingen's visionary manuscript, the Scivias.

Chamberlain, David. "Marie de France's Arthurian lai: Subtle and Political." In Culture and the King: The Social Implications of the Arthurian Legend, edited by Martin B. Shichtman and James P. Carley, pp. 15-34. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1994.

Analyzes Marie de France's Arthurian "Lai de Lanval" in the context of twelfth-century social and political themes.

Chance, Jane, ed. Gender and Text in the Later Middle Ages. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1996, 342 p.

Features essays on such topics as feminine mysticism, misogyny, and female self-representation in works by Julian of Norwich, Birgitta of Sweden, Margery Kempe, Hadewijch, Marie de France, Christine de Pisan, and others.

Cherewatuk, Karen, and Ulrike Wiethaus, eds. Dear Sister: Medieval Women and the Epistolary Genre. Philadelphia: University of Philadelphia Press, 1993, 215 p.

Collection of essays that survey women's contributions to the literary tradition of letter-writing from the sixth to the sixteenth centuries.

Cowell, Andrew. "Deadly Letters: 'Deus amanz,' Marie's 'Prologue' to the Lais, and the Dangerous Nature of the Gloss." Romanic Review 88, no. 3 (May 1997): 337-56.

Evaluates Marie de France's efforts to appropriate traditionally male forms of legitimizing narrative authority in her prologue to the Lais.

Duby, Georges. Women of the Twelfth Century, Volume Three: Eve and the Church, translated by Jean Birrell. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998, 122 p.

Discusses the twelfth-century recognition by leaders within the Christian Church of the unique spiritual and social expectations of women in the Middle Ages.

Evans, Ruth, and Lesley Johnson, eds. Feminist Readings in Middle English Literature: The Wife of Bath and All Her Sect. London: Routledge, 1994, 257 p.

Consists of nine essays that approach Chaucer's Wife of Bath and other figures—both historical and literary—of the medieval period generally associated with a protofeminist critique of patriarchal society.

Faraone, Christopher A. "Salvation and Female Heroics in the Parodos of Aristophanes' Lysistrata." Journal of Hellenic Studies 117 (1997): 38-59.

Comments on the theatrical reenactment of what would have been to classical Greek audiences a recognizable ritual celebration of salvation by women in Aristophanes's drama Lysistrata.

Foley, Helene P. "The 'Female Intruder' Reconsidered: Women in Aristophanes' Lysistrata and Ecclesiazusae." Classical Philology 77, no. 1 (January 1982): 1-21.

Problematizes the tension between oikos and polis (household and city-state), generally depicted in terms of a binary opposition between feminine and masculine spheres, by drawing counterexamples from classical Greek drama.

——. Female Acts in Greek Tragedy. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2001, 410 p.

In-depth study of the gendered conflict between private and public concerns depicted in the tragic drama of Sophocles, Euripides, and Aeschylus.

Fulkerson, Laurel. "Epic Ways of Killing a Woman: Gender and Transgression in Odyssey 22.465-72." Classical Journal 97, no. 4 (April-May 2002): 335-50.

Treats the theme of infidelity in Homer's Odyssey by contrasting the unfaithfulness of twelve serving maids, later hanged by Telemachus, with Penelope's lifelong constancy to Odysseus.

Garber, Rebecca L. R. Feminine Figurae: Representations of Gender in Religious Texts by Medieval German Women Writers 1100-1375. London: Routledge, 2003, 295 p.

Book-length study of gender and genre focused on the three literary forms associated with medieval women writers: the vision cycle, sister-book, and personal revelation.

Gold, Barbara K., Paul Allen Miller, and Charles Platter, eds. Sex and Gender in Medieval and Renaissance Texts: The Latin Tradition. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1997, 322 p.

Investigates representations of women and of the female body in a number of Latin texts of the medieval and early Renaissance periods, including works by Hrotsvit, St. Augustine, and Petrarch.

Greer, Germaine. "The Cloister." In The Obstacle Race: The Fortunes of Women Painters and Their Work, pp. 151-68. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1979.

Evaluates the unique social position of the convent in medieval Europe, exploring the link between monasticism and the creation of illuminated manuscripts by women.

Harris, Kevin. "The Place of Women." In Sex, Ideology, and Religion: The Representation of Women in the Bible, pp. 30-78. Brighton, Sussex: Wheatsheaf Books, 1984.

Highlights the relative absence of women as significant or active figures in the Bible in contrast to biblical men.

Havelock, Christine Mitchell. "Mourners on Greek Vases: Remarks on the Social History of Women." In Feminism and Art History: Questioning the Litany, edited by Norma Broude and Mary D. Garrard, pp. 45-61. New York: Harper & Row, 1982.

Focuses on antique vase paintings as they offer insight into the status and emotional life of women in classical Greece.

Head, Pauline. "Who Is the Nun from Heidenheim? A Study of Hugeburc's Vita Willibaldi." Medium Aevum 71, no. 1 (spring 2002): 29-46.

Probes Hugeburc's eighth-century biographies of Willibald and Wynnebald, describing narrative tensions between hagiographic convention, the author's feminine subjectivity, and her male literary subjects.

Hedreen, Guy. "Image, Text, and Story in the Recovery of Helen." Classical Antiquity 15, no. 1 (April 1996): 152-84.

Analyzes Athenian vase-paintings depicting Helen of Troy and her husband Menelaos as they suggest social relationships between men and women in Bronze-Age Greece.

Hurtig, Dollian Margaret. "'I Do, I Do': Medieval Models of Marriage and Choice of Partners in Marie de France's 'Le Fraisne.'" Romanic Review 92, no. 4 (November 2001): 363-79.

Suggests that Marie de France's twelfth-century lai "Le Fraisne" introduces a notion of the bond between marriage and love that at the time may have been quite revolutionary.

Janan, Micaela. "'There beneath the Roman Ruin where the Purple Flowers Grow': Ovid's Minyeides and the Feminine Imagination." American Journal of Philology 115 (1994): 427-48.

Focuses on Ovid's evocation of feminine desire in the stories of his Metamorphoses involving the Minyeides, viewing it as a force disruptive to all social and institutional constraints.

Jensen, Anne. God's Self-Confident Daughters: Early Christianity and the Liberation of Women, translated by O. C. Dean, Jr. Louisville, Ky.: Westminster John Knox Press, 1996, 347 p.

Endeavors to construct a feminist history of women and the church in late antiquity, with sections on the education, marginalization, martyrdom, and the spiritual teachings of women in the early Christian period.

Klein, Stacy S. "Reading Queenship in Cynewulf's Elene." Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 33, no. 1 (2003): 47-89.

Explains the influence of Cynewulf's poem Elene in defining the nature of queenship in Anglo-Saxon England.

Koloski-Ostrow, Ann Olga, and Claire L. Lyons, eds. Naked Truths: Women, Sexuality, and Gender in Classical Art and Archaeology. London: Routledge, 1997, 315 p.

Collection of essays oriented toward the redefinition of classical art history from the perspective of contemporary feminism (featuring selections on antique representations of such figures as Sappho and Clytemnestra), as well as on classical renderings of the feminine form in the visual arts.

Lesko, Barbara S. The Great Goddesses of Egypt. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1999, 321 p.

Detailed study of the seven goddesses of the ancient Egyptian pantheon and of the temples and cults devoted to them.

Lewis, Sian. The Athenian Woman: An Iconographic Handbook. London: Routledge, 2002, 261 p.

Documents and analyzes representations of Athenian women in Greek painting and sculpture of the fifth and sixth centuries B.C., encapsulating what can be known of their social and personal life from these sources.

McLaren, Anne, and Chen Qinjian. "The Oral and Ritual Culture of Chinese Women: Bridal Lamentations of Nanhui." Asian Folklore Studies 59 (2000): 205-38.

Interprets the bridal lamentation ritual performed by women of the Yangtze River delta region in imperial China—one of only a few available insights into the spiritual and personal life of generally secluded and socially marginalized Chinese women during this period.

Pomeroy, Sarah B. "Women in the Bronze Age and Homeric Epic." In Goddesses, Whores, Wives, and Slaves: Women in Classical Antiquity, pp. 16-31. New York: Schocken Books, 1975.

Surveys the position of women in Bronze-Age Greece as portrayed in Homeric epics the Iliad and the Odyssey, noting that despite the patriarchal bent of this early civilization, Homer's works remain relatively free of misogyny.

——. Spartan Women. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002, 198 p.

Full-length history of women in ancient Sparta that features sections on education, marriage, motherhood, the aristocracy, and religion in Spartan society.

Richmond, Colleen D. "Hrotsvit's Sapientia: Rhetorical Power and Women of Wisdom." Renascence: Essays on Values in Literature 55, no. 2 (winter 2003): 133-45.

Argues that in her play The Martyrdom of the Holy Virgins Fides, Spes, and Karitas, the tenth-century Saxon canoness Hrotsvit offers an empowering reassessment of women that breaks with many of the patriarchal stereotypes found in classical Roman drama.

Rigby, S. H. "The Wife of Bath, Christine de Pizan, and the Medieval Case for Women." Chaucer Review 35, no. 2 (2000): 133-65.

Adapts Christine de Pizan's rhetorical strategies in defense of women to the critical debate surrounding Geoffrey Chaucer's Wife of Bath as either an outspoken champion of feminist rights or the embodiment of negative and patriarchal stereotypes regarding women.

Rose, Christine M. "What Every Goodwoman Wants: The Parameters of Desire in Le Menagier de Paris/The Goodman of Paris." Studia Anglica Posnaniensia: International Review of English Studies 38 (mid-summer 2002): 393-410.

Assesses the ways in which women may have been manipulated by popular medieval conduct and advice books written by men, using the example of the fourteenth-century Le menagier de Paris, a housekeeping book written by a 60-year-old French official for his 15-year-old wife.

Rossi, Mary Ann. "The Passion of Perpetua: Everywoman of Late Antiquity." In Pagan and Christian Anxiety: A Response to E. R. Dodds, edited by Robert C. Smith and John Lounibos, pp. 53-85. Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 1985.

Analyzes the text of the Passio Perpetuae, highlighting insights the diary provides regarding Perpetua's status as a female Christian convert within the patriarchal society of imperial Rome.

Salisbury, Joyce E. Encyclopedia of Women in the Ancient World. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO, 2001, 385 p.

Presents brief entries on literary and historical women of antiquity and topics of related interest.

Shaw, Brent D. "The Passion of Perpetua." Past & Present, no. 139 (May 1993): 3-45.

Studies the document known as the Passio Sanctarum Perpetuae et Felicitatis, which includes Perpetua's account of her arrest and imprisonment prior to her execution in early-third-century A. D. Rome. The critic stresses Perpetua's clear and direct literary mode of self-expression and also examines the additions of a male editor to the text of her diary.

Shaw, Michael. "The Female Intruder: Women in Fifth-Century Drama." Classical Philology 70, no. 4 (October 1975): 255-66.

Evaluates distinctions between masculine and feminine social roles portrayed in classical Greek drama.

Sikorska, Liliana. "Internal Exile: Dorothea of Montau's Inward Journey." Studia Anglica Posnaniensia: International Review of English Studies 38 (mid-summer 2002): 433-44.

Documents the solitary pilgrimage and writings of fourteenth-century saint and mystic Dorothea of Montau.

Thompson, Patricia J. "Dismantling the Master's House: A Hestian/Hermean Deconstruction of Classic Texts." Hypatia 9, no. 4 (fall 1994): 38-56.

Concentrates on the gendered tension between domestic and public spheres in ancient Greece (usually typified in the symbolic opposition between oikos and polis )in terms of the gods Hestia and Hermes as respective guardians of private and public space.

Walcot, Peter. "Greek Attitudes towards Women: The Mythological Evidence." In Women in Antiquity, edited by Ian McAuslan and Peter Walcot, pp. 91–102. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996.

Claims that the Greek representation of women in mythic literature suggests that male perceptions of the opposite sex were conditioned by a fear of female sexuality. This essay was originally published in 1984.

Walters, Barbara R. "Women Religious Virtuosae from the Middle Ages: A Case Pattern and Analytic Model of Types." Sociology of Religion 63, no. 1 (2002): 69-89.

Comparative analysis of five female religious models of the thirteenth century (including Hadewijch of Antwerp, Marguerite Porete, and Gertrude of Helfta) that endeavors to rework Max Weber's sociological theory of medieval mysticism.

White, Rachel Evelyn. "Women in Ptolemaic Egypt." Journal of Hellenic Studies 18 (1898): 238-66.

Compiles evidence relating to royal mothers, sisters, and wives in Ptolemaic Egypt, and includes brief descriptions of the queens who bore the name Cleopatra.

Wren, James A. "Salty Seaweed, Absent Women, and Song: Authorizing the Female as Poet in the Izayoi nikki." Criticism: A Quarterly for Literature and the Arts 39, no. 2 (spring 1997): 185-204.

Discusses the travel diary of the twelfth-century Japanese nun Abutsu as it presents a literary challenge to the patriarchal culture of feudal Japan.

Zeitlin, Froma I. "The Dynamics of Misogyny: Myth and Mythmaking in the Oresteia." Arethusa 2 (1978): 149-81.

Argues that Aeschylus's dramas enact the conflict between female and male principles in a patriarchal society.

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Women and Women's Writings from Antiquity Through the Middle Ages: Further Reading

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Women and Women's Writings from Antiquity Through the Middle Ages: Further Reading