The aim of the course is
- To explore how and why women’s social and
historical experience was excluded from the view of the "traditional"
- To show the example of European Middle Ages
gender approach to history,
- To reveal origins of the main prejudices
concerned of women,
- To illuminate basic aspects of women’s
socio-legal status and women’s everyday life, as well as the issue of
cross-sex relationships in Medieval Europe.
The course will be taught through lectures, class
discussions and seminars. Students will write a final essay on any one of
the provided readings (or on one article from a collection of readings).
Exam questions will include lectures, seminars and readings.
Main topics of the course:
Women’s history in feminist interpretations.
Basic aspects of the status of women in the Middle
Origins of the following prejudices:
- Imperfect nature of woman; her eternal sinness
and guilt (woman as "eternal Eve");
- Women as less capable for sciences as compared
- Ncessity of men’s control upon women;
- Christian conception of women;
- Women’s natural predestination (to bear children
and to take care of her husband).
- Socio-Legal Status
- Place of noble women in feudal structure
(European experience, specifics of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania);
- Distinctive features of the life of urban women,
of women-peasants, of marginal elements (prostitutes);
- Medieval law on the status of women (customary
law, European codes of laws, Statutes of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania);
- Participation of women in medieval public life.
- Family and Marriage in the Life of
- Upbringing and education of girls in noble
- Matrimonial practice in medieval Western Europe
and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (general features, similarities and
- Everyday life of married women
(responsibilities, position in the family, birth of children, household
- The Problem of Cross-Sex Relationships
among the Nobles and Middle Classes in Medieval Europe
- Sex in marriage;
- Concubinage and adultery;
- Deviant forms of sexual behaviour (rape,
visiting prostitutes, homosexual relationship);
- Courteous relations ("fine amour") in Western
Europe, and its influence on Eastern Europe.
- Summary and Conclusions.
All readings are provided by the instructor, both in
English and Russian (or Belarusian).
- Becoming Visible. Women in European History. Ed.
By R.Bridenthal, C.Koonz, and S.Stuard.
- A History of Women. Silences of the Middle Ages.
Vol.2. Ed. by Ch.Klapisch-Zuber.
- Miles, R. The Women’s History of the World.
- Duby G. Love and Marriage in the Middle Ages.
- Riley, D. Does a Sex Have a History? //
Feminism and History. Ed. by J.W.Scott.
- Women’s Lives in Medieval Europe. A Sourcebook.
Ed. by E.Amt.
- Women and Writing in Medieval Europe. A
Sourcebook. Ed. by C.Larrington.
The rest of the readings are in Russian or