Women’s Textual Agency in the Pre-modern Era


Special Topics in the Arts & Humanities |  Women’s Textual Agency in the Pre-modern Era (Team-taught)

Course Description
This seminar examines how women from a wide range of social and cultural backgrounds in the past asserted themselves through writing when confronted by patriarchal social forces and conventions. In particular, it analyzes the strategies women adopted to shape their self-identities as they engaged with and endeavored to transform male-dominated realms of cultural participation and production in a domestic, national, and international context.

The seminar is structured to bring together the interests and expertise of a number of faculty from different specializations and departments–French, German, Asian Studies, Spanish, Philosophy, English, Music, and History. As it is currently planned, the seminar will begin with work by medieval writers from France and Asia, move through writings by/and about women in the early-modern world.

Topics and Instructors
CHINA: “Li Mingcheng, A Woman of the Song Dynasty (960- 1279)” by Linda Johnson, History
JAPAN: “Lady Nijo, a Japanese lady-in-waiting, late 13th century” by Ethan Segal, History
 JAPAN: “The Image of the Heian Poetess Ono no Komachi in the 14th-century Noh play, Sooshi arai Komachi (Komachi Clears Her Name)” by Catherine Ryu, Japanese Literature
FRANCE: “Asserting Agency in the Early Middle Ages: Heloise” by Debra Nails, Philosophy
FRANCE: “The Identity of Heloise” by Julia Hölderness, French Literature, and Katie Dubois, History
ENGLAND: “Cross-dressing on the Renaissance Stage and Women’s Roles in the Society” by Jyotsna Singh, English
 ENGLAND: “Women Dramatists beyond the Commercial  Theatre: The Tragedy of Mariam” by Sandra Logan, English
MEXICO: “Female agency in Colonial Spanish America: Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz’s autobiographical writings” by Rocío Quispe-Agnoli, Spanish America
ITALY: “Barbara Strozzi, 17th-century Venetian singer-composer” by Kathryn Lowerre, Music
 ENGLAND: “The Correspondence of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu” by Ellen Pollak, English
GERMANY: “Eleonore Thon’s Adelheit von Rastenberg” by Karin Wurst, German
ENGLAND: “Mary Wollstoncraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792)” by Fred Rauscher, Philosophy, and Scott Juengel, English
FRANCE: “Women and Napoleon” by Anne Meyering, History