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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Robin C Stacey
HSTAM 340
Seattle Campus

Medieval Women

The experiences of women in medieval society: public and private power, changing concepts of family and the domestic sphere, ideal and reality in courtly love, women in religious life, women in the workplace, the querelle des femmes and the beginnings of "feminist" thought.

Class description

An examination of women's experiences in western Europe in the period (roughly) 500-1500. Most of our time will be spent on texts written in the medieval period itself: the early Irish epic "The Cattle-Raid of Cooley"; the love story of Heloise and Abelard; female saints' lives from the early and high middle ages; the mystical and political writings of Hildegard of Bingen; medieval romance and fabliaux literature; the writings of Christine de Pisan, the first woman to earn her living as a professional writer in the medieval period and an admirer of Joan of Arc; witchcraft manuals.

Student learning goals

Students will complete the course with a broad knowledge of the history of women's experiences over the course of the Western European Middle Ages.

Students will be exposed to the various interpretative schools that have governed the study of women's experiences in the medieval period, and will be encouraged to formulate their own ideas on controversial issues.

Gender will also be a major focus in this class--specifically, the role played by gender in politics in this period.

A great deal of attention will be paid to student writing in this class. To this end, every student will have the experience of editing the written work of others, and of getting feedback on their own work from their peers.

Students will become acquainted with the basic analytical tools of the historian: the reading and analysis of primary sources; the reading and analysis of secondary scholarship; the integration of primary sources into existing historiographical narratives.

Students will develop their own ideas about sources, learn to marshall evidence in support of an historical argument, and practice articulating and substantiating their point of view in written form.

General method of instruction

Lectures and discussions of primary sources.

Recommended preparation

It would help if students had had HIST 112 (the medieval segment of Western Civilization) or the equivalent, but this is not a prerequisite.

Class assignments and grading

Weekly readings; attendance at lectures and participation in discussions. Two short (4-5 and 5-7 pages respectively) papers, each with a mandatory rough draft. Every student's rough draft will be discussed in a small group in-class writer's workshop; students will be expected in turn to comment orally and in writing on the rough drafts written by the other members of their workshop group. One final exam.

Class participation: 20% First paper: 20% Second paper: 30% Final Exam: 30%


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Robin C Stacey
Date: 04/17/2009