Girls to Women, Boys to Men: Gender in Medieval Education and Socialization (Kalamazoo 2019)

deadline for submissions: 
September 15, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Dainy Bernstein
contact email: 

Session at ICMS Kalamazoo 2019, May 9-12. Sponsored by the Society for Medieval Feminist Scholarship. 

We encourage submissions that address non-European and / or non-Christian contexts.

Please send abstracts of approximately 250 words, along with a completed Participant Information form, to session organizer Dainy Bernstein (dainybernstein@gmail.com) by September 15. Please include your name, title and affiliation on the abstract itself. All abstracts not accepted for the session will be forwarded to Congress administrators for consideration in general sessions, per Congress rules.

The past decade has seen a significant amount of scholarship on the means and methods of medieval socialization, in texts such as Merridee L. Bailey’s Socialising the Child in Late Medieval England, c. 1400-1600 (2012). By tracing ideologies surrounding the socialization of medieval boys, Ruth Mazo Karras’s From Boys to Men: Formations of Masculinity in Late Medieval Europe (2002) contributes to critical masculinity studies, examining the formation in addition to the manifestation of masculinity. But in studies about socialization more broadly, gender is usually relegated to a small portion of the study, with the majority of each scholarly text discussing the socialization of male children by default and of female as simply a subcategory. The manifestation of medieval concepts of femininity has been extensively studied, but more attention needs to be paid to the ways in which girls were socialized to become women. In addition, the scholarship on the socialization of children rarely — if ever — addresses queer gender identities, nor does it often directly address the formations of gender identities, gender expressions, or gender roles. This panel therefore aims to expand the discussion through papers about children and childhood, gender, socialization, and education.

Questions that might be raised include:

  • How were girls trained to become women?
  • How were girls taught to view themselves?
  • How were girls taught to view boys/men?
  • How were boys taught to view girls/women?
  • What ideologies and structures played a role in the ways girls were trained or taught?
  • What were the circumstances under which those ideologies differed (region, class, etc)?
  • Was there space for queer gender identities and/or expressions in lived reality or in texts?
  • How do texts reinforce or defy the dominant models of feminine training and socialization?