This book re-evaluates and extends understandings about how work was conceived and what it could entail for women in the premodern period in Europe from c. 1100 to c. 1800. It does this by building on the impressive growth in literature on women’s working experiences, and by adopting new interpretive approaches that expand received assumptions about what constituted 'work' for women. While attention to the diversity of women’s contributions to the economy has done much to make the breadth of women’s experiences of labour visible, this volume takes a more expansive conceptual approach to the notion of work and considers the social and cultural dimensions in which activities were construed and valued as work. This interdisciplinary collection thus advances concepts of work that encompass cultural activities in addition to more traditional economic understandings of work as employment or labour for production. The chapters reconceptualise and explore work for women by asking how the working lives of historical women were enacted and represented, and analyse the relationships that shaped women’s experiences of work across the European premodern period.
Table of Contents
1. Approaching Women and Work in Premodern Europe
[Merridee L. Bailey, Tania M. Colwell, and Julie Hotchin]
2. Working Through Letters: Women’s Voices and Epistolary Culture in the Tegernseer Liebesbriefe
3. Uncourtly Cloth Workers in the Old French Sewing Songs
[E. Jane Burns]
4. "When Adam Delved and Eve Span": Gender and Textile Production in the Middle Ages
5. "Fortune ce mestier m’aprist": Christine de Pizan as Writer, Teacher, and Voice of Wisdom
6. Home Work: The Bourgeois Wife in Later Medieval England
7. Gender, Authority and Monastic Work: Holy Cross in Brunswick, c. 1500
8. "any Man or Woman being hole & mighty in body": Women’s Work Under Tudor Vagrancy Law
[Nicholas Dean Brodie]
9. Working at the Margins: Women and Illicit Economic Practices in Lyon in the Late Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries
10. Contested Authority: Working Women in Leading Positions in the Early Modern Dutch Urban Economy
Merridee L. Bailey is a social and cultural historian of late medieval and early modern England. She is an Associate Member of the Faculty of History, University of Oxford.
Tania M. Colwell specialises in the socio-cultural history of late medieval France and England. She is a visiting fellow in the School of History at the Australian National University, and an Honorary Associate Investigator with the ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions.
Julie Hotchin is a religious and cultural historian of medieval Europe. She is a visiting fellow in the School of History at the Australian National University, and an Honorary Associate Investigator with the ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions.