Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Notes on "The Dominion of Gender of How Women Fared in the High Middle Ages" by Susan Mosher Stuard

As suggested by the title of her essay, Stuard's work focuses mainly on the theme of gender. She critically analyzes how and why gender developed as a category of differentiation in the high Middle Ages as compared to the relative egalitarian understanding of male/female functionality as understood in the early middle ages. The main arguments she uses are that as men became more affluent, the Church became more dominant in people's lives, and the governments of Europe became more solidified women were closed out of opportunities that they had been supported in and even expected to fulfill in earlier centuries.

Stuard also uses a number of other themes to organize her arguments. She relies heavily on changing marriage dowries (marriage/family; economics) and the male clergy's interpretation of Christian doctrine (religion) and classic Aristotelian dogma to explain why women slowly lost rights to govern, make laws, and receive education (citizenship and law; education). Ultimately, the progress that men experienced in these centuries resulted in the loss of rights for women as they were given the negatives of attributes assigned to men. These developments are still impacting our society today, making the modern women's movements necessities for achieving equality (feminism).

1 comment:

  1. Emily summarized this chapter wonderfully! It was a complex reading and she did a great job touching on all significant points!
    I found the reading interesting and was surprised to learn about men favoring "...likeness, not difference, when they linked the sexes" in the early 12th century (130). The Aristotelian understanding on sexuality and the applying of polarities to men and women, with women usually being assigned the negative trait and men the positive, also piqued my interest.