Academic journal article Magistra

Nuns' Literacies in Medieval Europe: The Kansas City Dialogue

Academic journal article Magistra

Nuns' Literacies in Medieval Europe: The Kansas City Dialogue

Article excerpt

Nuns' Literacies in Medieval Europe: The Kansas City Dialogue, ed. Virginia Blanton, Veronica O'Mara and Patricia Stoop. Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2015. 413 pp., $130, ISBN 978-2-503-54922-4.

This is the second in a three volume series based on international gatherings held in three locations (1. Hull, 2. Kansas City, and 3. Antwerp). The participants are exploring literacy among women religious who, across countries and in diverse languages, read, interpreted, copied, wrote, translated, edited, and served as patrons of intellectual and literate practice. Scholars worked with both Latin and vernacular texts - a technical pursuit of evidence that "nun literacy" was not a myth. This volume is technical, scholarly, thoughtful, and integrative. I appreciated the commitment of these scholars to "building their case" with sheer depth of their data, and establishing that these were not unconventional cases, but rather more normative that traditional histories acknowledged.

Questions that framed all three conferences include: What level of access and understanding of Latin did nuns have and how did they use Latin in concert with vernacular texts? When and where did nuns use vernacular languages as a means of access to books? What are the differences in writing ability across the different vernaculars? How did nuns' use of language change over time and place and by religious order? Which surviving manuscripts show evidence of nuns as readers, patrons, or copyists? What books were nuns, writing, as opposed to reading, copying, or exchanging? Framing these and other questions has served this project well. Essays explore nuns' education, manuscript creation, visual arts, and textual interactions with broader culture. …

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