Spring Semester 2008

Dr. G. Dameron

Library 306 (Office Hours: Monday, 2-4; Wednesday, 11-12, and by appointment)

Phone: x2318; email: gdameron;

web site: http://academics/smcvt.edu/gdameron/


San Damiano (Assisi), the Convent of Saint Clare of Assisi

Photo by G. Dameron (Copyright 2008)



The goals of the course are the following: 1) to explore on an advanced level the nature of the lives of women and the construction of gender in the European Middle Ages (400-1500), 2) to provide the student with the resources and background necessary to allow him/her to complete an advanced research paper on a topic associated with medieval women and/or gender, 3) to expose the student to the principal historical issues associated with the study of women and gender in the Middle Ages, 4) to stimulate more interest in the Middle Ages, 5) to explore specific problems in the history of gender and women in the Middle Ages (marriage, sexuality, spirituality, legal rights, Joan of Arc), 6) to enhance the ability of the student to think and write critically and analytically about the past, and 7) to fulfill a requirement for the History major, the Gender Studies major, and/or Medieval Studies minor.



“Women and Gender in the Middle Ages” is an upper-level seminar designed for juniors and seniors who have had at least one other History course and/or Gender Studies course.  Seminar meetings will focus on the discussion of assigned readings.  Each week a student will begin discussion with a question on the reading for that week. Students will also complete a research paper, make an oral presentation of their research conclusions at the end of the semester, and write critically about assigned readings.  The seminar will meet from 2:30 to 5:15 each week, with a short break in the middle of every session. Because we meet only once a week, attendance at every meeting is obligatory. If a student misses a seminar, (s)he will write a two-page focus paper on the reading for that seminar, due the following seminar meeting.


On March 6 there will be no regular 2:30 pm seminar meeting, as I will be out of town presenting a paper at a medieval studies conference in Florida.  Instead, the seminar will meet that day at 7 pm in McCarthy Recital Hall for a lecture by the Phi Beta Kappa (Gamma Chapter) Visiting Scholar for 2008, Dr. Sandra Harding, a pioneer in the field of Gender Studies. The title of the lecture is “Sciences ‘From Below’: An Introduction to Postcolonial Science and Technology Studies” (McCarthy Recital Hall, 7 pm, followed by dessert reception). The event is sponsored financially by Gamma Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa (with funding through the Lecture Committee), the Center for Women and Gender, and the Vice President for Academic Affairs.  The Gender Studies Program is also sponsoring the talk.



All students should have Junior or Senior standing and at least one History course, or permission of the Instructor.  Students who have taken at least one Gender Studies course are also welcome.



eCollege is web based course management system that we will use for this course.   Accessible through eCollege are the syllabus, study questions, announcements about upcoming events, documents or texts, links to maps and web sites, and any other communication that are deemed important to the management of the course.   The URL location for eCollege is www.smcvtonline.org, and you should place it in your Favorites folder.   Students can gain access to eCollege by using their Login ID (the mikenet name) and College ID#, which functions as the password.  Students should check the site regularly for any messages or announcements or new postings.



The requirements of the course are the following:

1) completion of two short (2-3 pages) essays on assigned readings and films (20% of grade; 10% apiece); the first essay is on the assigned readings for the January 31 seminar; the second essay is on the image or historicity of Joan of Arc in the three films, due April 3;

2) a prospectus and annotated bibliography on the research topic chosen by the student (10% of grade) due February 28;

3) research paper (15-18 pages) on a topic of the student's choosing (40% of grade) due May 1 (I ill distribute guidelines and possible topics later in the semester);

4) attendance, participation, and oral presentation of research results  in seminar discussions (20% of grade).


Film Series on Joan of Arc

The course will include a film series on Joan of Arc, in which three films will be shown:  “Joan of Arc” (Victor Fleming, director, 1948) on February 7 (Thursday), “Jeanne la Pucelle” (Jacques Rivette, 2001) on February 21 (Thursday, part 1) and part 2 the week of March 6 (at the discretion of the student), and “The Passion of Joan of Arc” (Carl Dreyer, 1928) on March 27.  Except for Part 2 of Rivette’s film, all the films will be shown on Thursday evenings in SE 113, beginning at 6 pm.   After each screening, the films will be placed on reserve at the Circulation Desk.


The Paper

The paper is due on May 1 (Thursday), at my office (Library 306). There will be a half a letter grade penalty (5 points) for every day the paper is late.   The paper will follow the required methods approved by the Department of History of citing primary and secondary sources (MLA or Chicago Manual of Style), and it must also include a formal bibliography.  History department policy requires students to use footnotes or endnotes in the proper format.  In-text citations (notes within parentheses inside the text) are unacceptable. For information on citing sources and creating bibliographies, see Paper Assignment Guidelines (at my web site) or “Citing and Documenting” at the library web site.  The seminar will include a presentation on library resources for the research paper by a member of the library staff on February 14.  Also available at my web site is a select bibliography of books on medieval women and gender.


Academic Integrity

Plagiarism is a serious academic offense.  According to the Policy on Academic Integrity included in the Student Handbook and Code of Conduct and posted online, plagiarism is the presentation  of “another person’s ideas as your own, by directly quoting or indirectly paraphrasing, without properly citing the original source. This includes inadvertent failure to properly acknowledge sources.” The penalties for plagiarism can range from receiving a failing grade for the plagiarized assignment to receiving a failing grade in the course.  In some cases plagiarism can result in suspension or expulsion from the college. 


Documented Learning Differences

Students with documented learning differences (verified by the Office of the Liaison for Students with Special Needs, Ms. Antonia Messuri) will receive special accommodations where appropriate.  Please see me if you would like to request such arrangements.








There are two major reference works available in the Reference Section of the library:  Margaret Schaus, editor, Women and Gender in Medieval Europe:  An Encyclopedia (New York:  Routledge, 2006); Katharina M. Wilson, Nadia Margolis, editors, Women in the Middle Ages, 2 vols. (Greenwood, Connecticut:  Greenwood Press, 2006).  Also available is The Dictionary of the Middle Ages, edited by Joseph Strayer.



There are numerous web sites devoted to the study of gender and women’s history of the Middle Ages.  Among the most important are the following:  The Medieval Feminist Forum, The Monastic Matrix (monastic women), Orb, The Internet Medieval Sourcebook (Sex and Gender), The Internet Women’s History Sourcebook (Medieval Europe), the International Joan of Arc Society, Labyrinth (Medieval Women), and Feminae.




WEEK ONE (January 17): Introduction to the Study of Masculinity and Femininity in the Middle Ages


WEEK TWO (January 24): Women and Men in the Middle Ages:  Theory and the Heritage of Antiquity


WEEK THREE (January 31): Women in Early Medieval Europe:  Invasions, Queenship, and Religious Life

         Bitel, chapters 1-3


WEEK FOUR (February 7):  Women in Early Medieval Europe:  Marriage and  the Economy


WEEK FIVE (February 14):  Medieval Women in Law, Marriage, and Religious Life


WEEK SIX (February 21):  Noble and Peasant Women in Town and Country; Health and Safety

Shahar, chapters 5-7


WEEK SEVEN (February 28):  Women as Outsiders

         Shahar, chapter 8

         Farmer, "Down and Out and Female in Thirteenth-Century Paris" (online)

         Amt:  Part VI


WEEK EIGHT (March 6):  The Phi Beta Kappa (Gamma Chapter) Visiting Scholar (Sandra Harding)


WEEK NINE (March 13):  Gender, Spirituality, and the Inquisition


WEEK TEN (March 20):  No seminar

**Spring Recess** (March 15-24)


WEEK ELEVEN (March 27):  Gender, Spirituality, and the Inquisition


WEEK TWELVE (April 3):  The Case of Joan of Arc


WEEK THIRTEEN (April 10):  The Case of Joan of Arc (continued)


WEEK FOURTEEN (April 17):  The Trial of Joan of Arc


WEEK  FIFTEEN (April 24):  Student Presentations


WEEK SIXTEEN (May 1):  Student Presentations and Conclusion