Saints and faith have been a large part of readings and discussions this past semester. We’ve discussed the body and it’s association with faith in terms of being “pure” belaying one of the highest positions for women at this time. Does this quest for “purity” have anti feminist undertones as an acceptance of social restraints or does it represent a search for control over ones own body?
This question would be applicable to section two of the exam.
Over the course of the semester we have discussed how medieval woman can be bound by things such as economic and social status in the first half of the semester and bound in another sense in the manner of being bound to purity is such extreme ways as becoming an anchorite in the second half. Describe a woman, based off the course materials, who would have been considered truly free by medieval standards. Describe what the operational definition of freedom is and cite examples from the texts that allowed you to piece together your unbound medieval woman. Consider: Is she married or unmarried? Virgin or not? Economic status? Why do these define her freedom?
Throughout this course we have discussed what the concept of “Medieval Feminism” is, or is not.
This question is for part one:
In the second half of the semester we read texts that revolve around saints’ lives, the woman’s relationship with God, virginity, and other similar themes in relation to faith and religion. From these texts where do we see women’s faith as a way to achieve and demonstrate acts of medieval feminism?
Throughout this course we have encountered women in different situations and from vastly different backgrounds. How have these women, in the face of their varying challenges, worked to assert their own agency throughout their texts? How have their different circumstances molded the ways they are able to establish their own agency? Are there similarities among these acts across the different texts we’ve read? How have the men or society in the texts in general reacted to these actions? What does this say about the women we’ve read? Be specific in your examples to support your claims.
In The Anchoress, Sarah chooses to be enclosed because she believes that being close to God as an anchoress will help heal her grief from the deaths of her mother and sister. She craves isolation from the outside world and hopes that God will keep her “safe,” which Father Ranaulf tells her will not happen. Although she is isolated in her cell, Sarah forms several relationships with the women who come to visit her. What is the importance of these relationship versus Sarah’s relationship with God? Is one more valuable to her? What is the author saying about medieval women and religion through these very different relationships? In what ways did being anchoress live up to/not live up to Sarah’s expectations?
The name of the course is “Medieval Feminism”, how have we seen feminism executed throughout the course? What actions were taken by the women in the texts that would be considered feminist movements of their time? What actions were taken that could be considered feminist movements of our time and by our standards of feminism? Were the women of the texts bold as one would expect a feminist to be or did they break typical stereotypes (in today’s society) of what feminism looks like? How were women received when they did act boldly? Are women often treated the same today?
During this course we have discussed many how women were portrayed in different medieval texts. Using at least one novel from the first part of the semester and at least one from the second half compare and contrast how women were portrayed differently when they were royalty/ladies to when they were saintly women. What kind of descriptions were given of the women? What was expected of the women in each type of tale? Where did the women get their authority and who had authority over them? Were they described differently when a man wrote the tale for either type of women? If yes, how so? Why do you think that these things were different and or similar? Please make sure include anything else that is relevant to show how the women were similar and different.
As we discussed in class, Margery Kempe is a very multifaceted character both as a person and in connection to her faith. Her book is also one of the earliest autobiographies that we have access to and gives us a real and detailed account in regards to both patriarchal and religious oppression of the day. Keeping the above in mind, how do you think Margery’s book has affected or adds to the way we study medieval literature and what do you think medieval feminist studies would like if we did not have this text?
This question is intended for part one of the exam: Throughout the second half of the semester, we have read about various remarkable women who made immense sacrifices as they dedicated their lives to serving God. We even read about some women being tortured and murdered. Drawing upon the lives of one or more of the women we have learned about, explain how these women used the body and the suffering of the body to create a physical manifestation of their spiritual reality.