For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

The Oxford Handbook of Women and Gender in Medieval Europe

by The Oxford Handbook of Women and Gender in Medieval Europe (2013)


This book maps out what we now firmly know—and what we are just beginning to know--after four decades of scholarship on women and gender in medieval Europe. Medieval gender rules seem both foreign and familiar today. Medieval people understood religion, law, love, marriage, and sexual identity in distinctive ways that compel us today to understand women and gender as changeable, malleable, and unyoked from constraints of nature or biology. Yet some medieval views are echoed in modern traditions, and those echoes tease out critical tensions of continuity and change in gender relations. The essays collected here also speak to interpretative challenges common to all fields of women’s and gender history—that is, how best to uncover the experiences of ordinary people from archives formed mainly by and about elite males, and how to combine social histories of lived experiences with cultural histories of gendered discourses and identities. The collection focuses on western Europe in the Middle Ages but essays also offer some consideration of medieval Islam and Byzantium. The essays range widely and are gathered together under seven themes: Christian, Jewish and Muslim thought; law in theory and practice; domestic life and material culture; labor, land, and economy; bodies and sexualities; gender and holiness; and the interplay of continuity and change over the medieval millennium.


History, Women, Gender, Sexuality, Religion, Economy, Law, Domesticity, Continuity


History of Women and Work, Middle Ages

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