This course considers the contributions religious women made to the history of Christianity, Christian spirituality, religious literature, and theology. Between 1000 and 1800, individual women and women’s communities actively shaped religious life in the West. Whether admired as visionaries or accused of heresies, religious women’s intellectual and institutional existence was deeply affected by their gender. We will discuss important stations of this history, with a particular focus on the German-speaking parts of Europe. Themes such as the emergence of a religious women’s movement in the Middle Ages, female mysticism, the monastic reform movements, the closing of convents during the Reformation, and critiques of life behind convent walls will be the focus of our discussions. The writings and sources at the center of this class will be complemented by background readings as well as a site visit to a women’s community (in negotiation), films, images, etc.
No prior knowledge or German required.
Class participation and 4 short essays