Women living in medieval Europe (c. 450–1450) were not only avid readers, they also were the patrons, authors, scribes, artists and authorizers of an array of textual genres. This class will consider some of these learned women as we read, in translation, their autobiographical, historical, religious, poetic, romantic, scientific and even medical writings. From a concerned mother living in the ninth century, to a famous lover-turned-abbess in the twelfth century, to a fourteenth-century visionary who criticized Rome, we will explore the lives, words, illuminations and books of these illustrious and ordinary women. By the end of the week, not only will the integral place of women within intellectual and cultural circles be apparent, but the unfortunate label of the “Dark Ages” for this fascinating millennium will be entirely wiped from your minds.

Required reading: Katharina M. Wilson, "Medieval Women Writers" (University of Georgia Press, 1984) 

Catherine Keene earned her Ph.D. from Central European University in Budapest, Hungary and was teaching as adjunct assistant professor of medieval studies at Southern Methodist University in Dallas (where she met Danielle) until her recent retirement. Her work explores questions of sanctity and medieval women, and her monograph, Saint Margaret, Queen of the Scots: A Life in Perspective (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013, 2016), returns this remarkable sainted queen to her rightful place in scholarship. Catherine Keene continues to work on a variety of medieval projects as she divides her time between her native Wisconsin and Dallas, and she is thrilled at the opportunity to teach at Björklunden.

Danielle Joyner is an assistant professor of art history at Lawrence University. She earned an M.A. in medieval studies from the University of Toronto and a Ph.D. in art history from Harvard University. She is the author of the 2016 book, Painting the Hortus Deliciarum: Medieval Women, Wisdom, and Time, as well as articles on the subjects of time, gardens and the natural world in medieval arts. She taught at the University of Notre Dame and Southern Methodist University before joining the faculty at Lawrence University. Danielle is eager to team up again with her colleague from Dallas and embark on medieval adventures along the shores of Lake Michigan.


Sunday, August 28, 2022 to Friday, September 2, 2022
History; Literature; Women