1st Edition

Reading Gender Studies on Medieval Manuscripts and Medievalist Movies

By Felice Lifshitz Copyright 2023
    268 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This collection brings together twelve essays published between 1988 and 2014, two of which are here translated into English from (respectively) their original French or German. All the essays use gender as the main category of analysis, whether of late ancient or early medieval texts or of modern medievalist films.

    The historical studies of medieval Europe emphasize the use of manuscript-level evidence, that is, actual sources from the period in question; arguably, this approach provides a more accurate understanding of the period than does work done on the basis of printed and edited sources. Furthermore, many of the manuscript-based essays specifically exploit liturgical or liturgy-adjacent materials; this is an area of research and a type of manuscript that has rarely been approached through a gendered lens. Meanwhile, the cinematic medievalism essays focus on the processes of remediation and adaptation, searching specifically for points at which filmmaking teams diverged from their sources as evidence for the main goals of the films (while also attending to production contexts and to reception).

    The juxtaposition in a single collection of scholarship on medieval manuscripts and modern movies illustrates how period specialists can contribute to conversations in the field of (historical) film studies. The book will be of interest to historians of women, gender, Christian liturgy, medieval Europe, medievalism, and historical film. (CS 1110).

    Part I: Missionaries, Monasteries, Martyrs, Medieval Studies: Reading Gender through Historiographical Critique

    1 Women Missionaries: The Example of Frankish Gaul

    Originally published as "Des Femmes Missionnaires: L’Exemple de la Gaule," Revue d'Histoire Ecclésiastique 83 (1988): 5-33. Reproduced (in an English translation by the author) with permission of the Revue d'Histoire Ecclésiastique.

    2 Is Mother Superior? Towards a History of Feminine Amtscharisma

    From Medieval Mothering, eds. Bonnie Wheeler and John Carmi Parsons (New York: Garland, 1996), pp. 117-138. Reproduced with permission of Taylor and Francis Group LLC (Books) US through PLSclear.

    3 The Martyr, the Tomb and the Matron: Constructing the (Masculine) "Past" as a Female Power Base

    From Medieval Concepts of the Past: Ritual, Memory, Historiography, eds. Patrick Geary, Gerd Althoff, and Johannes Fried (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2002), pp. 311-341. Reproduced with permission of Cambridge University Press.

    4 Differences, (Dis)appearances, and the Disruption of the Straight Telos: Medievalology as a History of Gender

    From Mediävistik im 21. Jahrhundert: Stand und Perspektiven, eds. Jörg Jarnut and Hans-Werner Goetz (Munich: Wilhelm Fink Verlag, 2003), pp. 295-312. Reproduced with permission of Brill Deutschland GmbH.

    Part II: Manuscripts, Methods, Medieval Studies: Reading Gender through Manuscript Evidence

    5 Gender and Exemplarity East of the Middle Rhine: Jesus, Mary, and the Saints in Manuscript Context

    From Early Medieval Europe 9 (2000): 325-344. Reproduced with permission of John Wiley and Sons.

    6 Gender Trouble in Paradise: The Case of the Liturgical Virgo

    From Images of Medieval Sanctity: Essays in Honour of Gary Dickson, ed. Debra Higgs Strickland (Leiden: Brill, 2007) pp. 25-39. Reproduced with permission of Koninklijke Brill NV.

    7 A Cyborg Initiation? Gender Ideology and Baptismal Liturgy in Carolingian Francia

    From Paradigms and Methods in Early Medieval Studies, eds. Celia Chazelle and Felice Lifshitz (New York: Palgrave, 2007), pp. 101-118. Reproduced with permission of Springer Nature BV through PLSclear.

    8 Priestly Women, Virginal Men: Litanies and their Discontents

    From Gender and Christianity in Medieval Europe: New Perspectives, eds. Lisa Bitel and Felice Lifshitz (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008), pp. 123-143. Reproduced with permission of the University of Pennsylvania Press.

    9 Apocryphal Acts and Legends of the Apostles as "Feminist" Narratives

    Originally published as "Apokryphe Apostelgeschichten und Apostellegenden als ‘feministische’ Narrative," in Vom Blutzeugen zum Glaubenszeugen? Formen und Vorstellungen des christlichen Martyriums im Wandel, eds. Gordon Blennemann and Klaus Herbers (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 2014) pp. 71-81. Reproduced (in an English translation by the author) with permission of Steiner Verlag.

    Part III: Modern Movies, Novels, and Plays: Reading Gender through Medievalism

    10 Destructive Dominae: Women and Vengeance in Medievalist Films

    From Defining Neo-Medievalism(s), ed. Karl Fugelso (Studies in Medievalism 21; Cambridge: DS Brewer, 2012) pp. 161-190. Reproduced with permission of Boydell & Brewer Limited through PLSclear.

    11 Women: The Da Vinci Code and the Fabrication of Tradition

    From Why the Middle Ages Matter: Medieval Light on Modern Injustice, eds. Celia Chazelle, Simon Doubleday, Felice Lifshitz, and Amy Remensyder (New York: Routledge, 2011), pp. 66-76. Reproduced with permission of Informa UK Limited through PLSclear.

    12 Ethnicity, Gender, and Sexuality in Mid-Century Medievalist Film: The Example of Becket (1964)

    From Quaestiones Medii Aevi Novae (QMAN) 19 (2014): 211-240. Reproduced with permission of the Institute of History (University of Warsaw), the Fundacja “Centrum Badań Historycznych,” and the Societas Vistulana.


    Felice Lifshitz received her PhD in History from Columbia University in 1988. For decades she taught at Florida International University in Miami, where she wrote most of the essays republished in Writing Gender, and in her 2020 collection Writing Normandy: Stories of Saints and Rulers. Since 2011 she has been Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Alberta. Her most recent publication is "The Bear Keeper’s Daughter and the Armenian Dwarf: Cinematic Byzantinism in Post-War Europe," in What Byzantinism in İstanbul Is This! Byzantium in Popular Culture (2021), part of a larger project on medievalist historical film.