To the Glory of Her Sex: Women's Roles in the Composition of Medieval Texts

To the Glory of Her Sex: Women's Roles in the Composition of Medieval Texts

To the Glory of Her Sex: Women's Roles in the Composition of Medieval Texts

To the Glory of Her Sex: Women's Roles in the Composition of Medieval Texts


"... a beautiful landmark study which elegantly combines feminist arguments with thorough historical and literary-historical investigations." -- The Medieval Review

"I admire Joan Ferrante's ability to balance her obvious zeal and enthusiasm for this worthwhile and timely study with an objectivity, copious methodology, and writing style... her intellectual acumen and perspicacity, and spark of creativity and imagination..." -- Envoi: A Review Journal of Medieval Literature

"Joan Ferrante has produced a stunning book, at once impeccably researched and written in smooth, clean, well-reasoned prose that is a delight to read." -- Feminist Collections

To the Glory of Her Sex presents an account of medieval women's activities as correspondents, readers, writers, and literary patrons from antiquity through the 14th-century. These writings, discovered and examined by Joan Ferrante, represent a cross-section of virtually every field in historical and literary studies, including Latin literature, political and religious correspondence, theological and moral treatises written for women, and histories and biographies commissioned by or addressed to them.


So many people have helped me in this work, directly and indirectly over the ten years I have been thinking about it, that I could not hope to acknowledge them all. But I would like to thank in particular those who read the manuscript at its longest and most unwieldy: Constance Jordan, whose own work on feminism in the Renaissance is such a strong model; Robert Hanning, whose interest and collaboration in medieval women's studies has cheered and encouraged me over the years; and Carey McIntosh, whose understanding and support have made this work and my life so much richer. I am very grateful to Caroline Bynum, who read this version; her comments were scholarly, generous, meticulous, and practical. And I would like to offer special thanks to the many graduate students who helped me with research and copyediting and enthusiasm at different stages: Suzanne Akbari, Julie Crosby, Mary Agnes Edsall, Thomas Hill, Bruce Holsinger, Claudia Papka, Margaret Pappano, Karen Sorensen, and Karen Green.

Two parts of this study have been published, in shorter versions, in "Whose Voice? The Influence of Women Patrons on Courtly Romances," in Literary Aspects of Courtly Culture, ed. Donald Maddox and Sara Sturm-Maddox (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1994) and "Women's Role in Latin Letters from the Fourth to the Early Twelfth Century," in The Cultural Patronage of Medieval Women, ed. June Hall McCash (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1996). I regret that Simon Gaunt's Gender and Genre in Medieval French Literature (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995) came to my attention after the book went to press so I have not been able to include it in my discussion.

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