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Title: Gendered imaginations? : illuminating the high medieval psalter for men and women in England
Author: Mills, Rosie Chambers.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3409 7953
Awarding Body: University of East Anglia
Current Institution: University of East Anglia
Date of Award: 2008
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The emergence of cycles of religious images as a sort of pictorial preface to psalters is a particular feature of English manuscript illumination in the twelfth and early thirteenth centuries. The gender of their recipients has been implicated in the phenomenon because of anachronistic twentieth-century models of female spirituality as well as stereotypes about the function of religious images. In general, the intentions are reparatory, seeking to recover the experiences and contributions of women in the past. Claims that prayer books made for female use can be recognized by certain defining characteristics, however, flirt with gender determinism. Assumptions about the role of gender in shaping the illumination of English medieval psalters chime with current views about the gendered origins of late medieval lay culture. Yet, the evidential basis for these claims has not been sufficiently assessed nor analyzed. The usefulness of these assumptions can be challenged through several approaches. A close analysis of the depiction of a female recipient at her devotions in the Trinity Psalter (Cambridge, Trinity College, MS B. 11.4, folio 103v) reveals an unexpected degree of complexity and sophistication not anticipated by stereotypes of female spirituality. The principal medieval text recommending a visual component to devotional practice for religious women is also susceptible to deeper analysis. The participatory role of the male author and his fluid treatment of gender identity in De Institutione Inclusarum, written by Aelred of Rievaulx for his sister, has not previously been recognised. Finally, quantitative analysis further confirms the gap between models of a distinctively female spirituality and the surviving examples of pictorially prefaced psalters. While this study does not deny that gender could have played a role in the reception of psalter picture cycles, it insists that there is no evidence that the recipient's gender determined either their form or their content.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available