Course/Lab Fee: 130 euro for museum fees and travel (course reader fee announced during orientation)
Cross-Listing: History, Religion, Women's Studies
This course explores the rich textual, hagiographic and visual records that celebrate an extraordinary group of medieval women active in Central Italy during the 13th and 14th centuries. It was an era of heroic female sanctity which produced Clare of Assisi, Catherine of Siena, Angela of Foligno, Humility of Faenza and Umiliana dei Cerchi besides being when a fervent devotion to the Virgin and Mary Magdalene arose. These unique women will be studied with a particular emphasis focusing on food, fasting, bloody flagellation and miraculous experiences found in ecstatic writing, Saints Lives and contemporary texts read in English translation. This happens together with viewing significant artistic monuments pictorially commemorating such unusual women, while they glorified local civic pride pivotal to Italian medieval society.
Students will be studying several outstanding Holy Women in order to consider the interconnection of popular religious display, individual exemplary lives, and the art and architecture created by a culture to exalt its spiritual heroines. They will be immersed in medieval texts, images and objects that will enable them to understand the historical period responsible for these remarkable characters. Students therefore will become acquainted with the literary, religious and artistic methods used to shape and define a female saint. The goal is to develop students’ critical reasoning, formal historical, literary and visual analysis and comprehension of this vivid aspect of Italian medieval experience.
Caroline Walker Bynum, Holy Feast and Holy Fast The Religious Significance of Food to Medieval Women, 1987. [ISBN 978-0520063297]
Elizabeth Alvida Petroff, Body and Soul Essays on Medieval Women and Mysticism, 1994. [ISBN 978-0195084559]
Mandatory course reader