Academic journal article Parergon

Jo Ann Kay McNamara (1931-2009)

Academic journal article Parergon

Jo Ann Kay McNamara (1931-2009)

Article excerpt

Jo Ann Kay McNamara died in New York City on 20 May 2009, aged 78. McNamara (Jo Ann, as she was known to her friends) was a renowned scholar of the role of women in medieval society, and a great friend to many members of ANZAMEMS. In particular, she was an inspiring keynote speaker and participant in the first ANZAMEMS Wellington conference of 1998, organized by the late Kim Walker, and a helpful member of Parergon's Advisory Board over many years. Her major academic interest was in the early middle ages, and the role of religious women in challenging standard expectations of female agency during that period. She was also important in developing the study of medieval masculinity, notably through her pivotal article, 'The Herrenfrage: The Restructuring of the Gender System, 1050-1150', in Medieval Masculinities: regarding men in the Middle Ages, ed. Clare A. Lees (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1994). She saw the ecclesiastical reform movement of the eleventh and twelfth centuries as creating a new kind of masculine hero, replacing that of the warrior. The ideal of chastity as pursued by women and men she saw as seeking to create a new ideal of gender equality.

Jo Ann speaks eloquently about her debt to other women in the academy who helped her, in her essay 'The Networked Life', published within Women Medievalists and the Academy, edited by Jane Chance (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2005). …

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