Women’s Literary Cultures in the Global Middle Ages
Since the closing decades of the twentieth century, medieval women’s writing has been the subject of energetic conversation and debate. This interest, however, has focused predominantly on western European writers working within the Christian tradition: the Saxon visionaries, Mechthild of Hackeborn, Mechthild of Magdeburg, Gertrude the Great, for example, and, in England, Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe are cases in point.
While this book acknowledges the huge importance of such writers to women’s literary history, it also argues that they should no longer be read solely within a local context. Instead, by putting them into conversation with other literary women and their cultures from wider geographical regions and global cultures – women from eastern Europe and their books, dramas and music; the Welsh gwraig llwyn a pherth (woman of bush and brake); the Indian mystic, Mirabai; Japanese women writers from the Heian period; women saints from across Christian Europe and those of eleventh-century Islam or late medieval Ethiopia; for instance – much more is to be gained in terms of our understanding of the drivers behind and expressions of medieval women’s literary activities in far broader contexts.
This volume, edited by Kathryn Loveridge, Liz Herbert McAvoy, Sue Niebrzydowski and Vicki Kay Price, and published in the series Gender in the Middle Ages, edited by Jacqueline Murray and Diane Watt, considers the dialogue, synergies, contracts and resonances emerging from such new alignments, and to help a wider, multidirectional development of this enquiry into women’s literary cultures. It will be published in April 2023. Preorder here.