Session Title

Women and Authority in the Global Middle Ages

Sponsoring Organization(s)

Special Session

Organizer Name

Zina Petersen

Organizer Affiliation

Brigham Young Univ.

Presider Name

Zina Petersen

Paper Title 1

The Book and Women's Authority in Premodern Korea

Presenter 1 Name

SeoKyung Han

Presenter 1 Affiliation

Binghamton Univ.

Paper Title 2

Women's Authority in Shota Rusaveli's The Man in the Panther Skin

Presenter 2 Name

Bert Beynen

Presenter 2 Affiliation

Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, Temple Univ.

Paper Title 3

Representations of Ordained Women in Early Christian Mosaics

Presenter 3 Name

Nancy Ross

Presenter 3 Affiliation

Dixie State Univ.

Paper Title 4

A Virgin Forespeca: Mary as Advocate in the Old English Advent Lyrics

Presenter 4 Name

Arendse Lund

Presenter 4 Affiliation

Univ. of California-Berkeley

Paper Title 5

Errantry and Violence among the Women of Le haut livre du Graal: Perlsevaus

Presenter 5 Name

Kate Koppy

Presenter 5 Affiliation

Purdue Univ.

Start Date

11-5-2014 10:30 AM

Session Location

Schneider 1220

Description

The concept of authority is elusive and context-specific. For a medieval artist or thinker, “auctoritas” was the necessary literary or artistic precedent that lent credibility to one’s own products. Authority can simply be power, given or taken; it can be an abstract collection of permissions, as in the authority to govern or to participate in certain ritual roles, or it can mean the weight of importance attached to knowledge, training or education. If authority is transferred via rite of passage within a system, as in consecration or ordination for religions, or appointment, coronation or inauguration for government, then “authority” is the end product of a speech act.

In systems with gendered opportunities that include or rely upon authority, women have traditionally been excluded from the structures of power, or if included, have been given extenuating or unusual rights, even granted a sort of “honorary male” status in order to wield the authority necessary for their fulfilling the situational requirements (e.g. Elizabeth I’s declaration that she had the heart and stomach of a king).

This session calls for papers exploring the notions of “authority” pertaining to women in the Middle Ages. Excluded from the communities of social or religious power, some individual women nevertheless wielded authority. How? How is it that the Magdalene is the Apostle to the apostles; how is it that female medieval mystics were heard, sometimes to be honored as “authoritative” and other times so feared as to be punished or executed? Though these examples are from Western Christianity, we invite and encourage papers about women from other traditions and places as well.

Zina Petersen

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May 11th, 10:30 AM

Women and Authority in the Global Middle Ages

Schneider 1220

The concept of authority is elusive and context-specific. For a medieval artist or thinker, “auctoritas” was the necessary literary or artistic precedent that lent credibility to one’s own products. Authority can simply be power, given or taken; it can be an abstract collection of permissions, as in the authority to govern or to participate in certain ritual roles, or it can mean the weight of importance attached to knowledge, training or education. If authority is transferred via rite of passage within a system, as in consecration or ordination for religions, or appointment, coronation or inauguration for government, then “authority” is the end product of a speech act.

In systems with gendered opportunities that include or rely upon authority, women have traditionally been excluded from the structures of power, or if included, have been given extenuating or unusual rights, even granted a sort of “honorary male” status in order to wield the authority necessary for their fulfilling the situational requirements (e.g. Elizabeth I’s declaration that she had the heart and stomach of a king).

This session calls for papers exploring the notions of “authority” pertaining to women in the Middle Ages. Excluded from the communities of social or religious power, some individual women nevertheless wielded authority. How? How is it that the Magdalene is the Apostle to the apostles; how is it that female medieval mystics were heard, sometimes to be honored as “authoritative” and other times so feared as to be punished or executed? Though these examples are from Western Christianity, we invite and encourage papers about women from other traditions and places as well.

Zina Petersen