Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Gendered Spaces in Medieval England

46th International Congress on Medieval Studies - Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI-- sponsored by the Society for Medieval Feminist Scholarship

Women’s (and men’s) relation to the world is literally a reciprocity between body and space. Space and place largely controlled gender and social order in medieval through early modern England (and beyond). In turn, gender exercised considerable influence on the use and organization of space. “Status and gender were displayed physically and spatially every moment of the day, from a person’s place at table to the bed on which he or she slept,” from the boudoir to breweries, from convents to the alehouse, the garden to birthing ceremonies, even one’s place at the offertory of the mass. Yet, certain societal changes, including the growth of the market town, the migration of single women from country to town, single women taking jobs as household servants, women traveling --sometimes alone, as did Margery Kempe on occasion—began to affect the physical and symbolic barriers intended to control their access to economically and socially valued knowledge. On the other hand, was there “considerable gender overlap in the use of domestic space and in the authority that husbands and wives exercised both within the household and over access to it” as Amanda Flather (2007) argues? Did neighborhood networks have a way of co-opting private (and domestic) space into the public through neighbors helping each other or through local ties of kinship or habits of socializing? This session is particularly interested in how women occupied, negotiated, (re)defined, constituted, and mediated new meanings, new knowledge in the process of creating, transforming, contesting, disolving, (new) spaces during this period in England.

Possible topics of exploration include but are not limited to:
Domestic space
Rural and/or urban space
Pilgrimages and crossing boundaries
Sacred spaces (churches, chapels, sanctuaries)
Virtuous space
Public space
Professional space
Fictional (literary) spaces

Please send a 1- page (about 150 words) abstract, and a 2-pp. CV attachment to by 15 September 2010.