Sisters and Workers in the Middle Ages

Judith M. Bennett, Author, Jean F. O'Barr, Editor, Elizabeth A. Clark, Editor University of Chicago Press $36 (312p) ISBN 978-0-226-04247-3
Eleven provocative essays, reprinted from Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society , offer a diverse glimpse of medieval life, as well as a sample of contemporary scholarship that is ``altering the patriarchal and antifeminist traditions of academia.'' Accessible to the general reader, the articles are highly specific in focus. (For example, canon law has surprising applications: Are prostitutes required to pay tithes on their professional earnings? Answer: Yes, but the Church can't accept the money until the prostitutes have reformed.) Sarah Westphal-Wihl's ``The Ladies' Tournament'' analyzes a work of courtly literature in which women dispute the nature of honor and stage a joust. Elsewhere Monica Green finds that early health care regulations were more concerned with the moral character of midwives than with their medical skills. Mary Martin McLaughlin's account of the troubled conversion of a lay community to an Augustinian monastery for women highlights ideologies in conflict. Bennett, associate professor of history at the University of North Carolina, wrote Women in the Medieval English Countryside . Illustrations not seen by PW . (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 12/12/1989
Release date: 12/01/1989
Paperback - 312 pages - 978-0-226-04248-0
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