Skip to content
Skip to navigation menu


Gender in the Middle Ages - 20 credits (HST635)

This module explores the meaning and purpose of gender definitions and gender roles in Europe and the Christian Middle East in the Middle Ages; and sets out to investigate how men and women actually lived and interacted during this period. While the dominant ideology during the Middle Ages often depicted women in a negative fashion, gender expectations were complex, so that (for example) women could be held up to men as an example of all the virtues, and holy men were encouraged to model their lives on women. Areas of medieval experience to be considered may include cross-dressing, law and punishment, writing, parenthood and sexual relationships. Students are encouraged to read widely and critically in translated primary sources written by both men and women and in secondary literature, to analyse the theories and models built up by scholars and to develop their own. The source material includes art and fictional literature as well as documentary and historical writings. The module will concentrate on the period 1000-1450, but students may range outside this period during their reading. Students will also have the opportunity to practise palaeographical skills.