Essay Collection on Grief and Gender in the Middle Ages

full name / name of organization: 
Dr. Lee Templeton, North Carolina Wesleyan College
contact email: 

This proposed collection seeks to explore the intersections of grief and gender in the Middle Ages across a variety of texts and disciplines, including literature, history, medicine, law, art, and religion.

Perhaps the most commonly held assumption about the expression of grief by men and women in the Middle Ages is that men express their grief through violence or stoicism, while women grieve in a much more emotional manner, namely, through the shedding of tears. While these two representations of gendered grief reflect, to a certain degree, well-established gender norms, they are too reductive of the human experience of loss and its attendant grief. The expression of grief in the Middle Ages, as one would expect, assumed a variety of forms, some of which conformed to established gender norms and some of which did not. This collection will examine the question of how grief relates to gender identity in the Middle Ages and how men and women perform this grief within the seemingly rigid gender framework constructed by medieval culture. Of interest are papers that explore not only how men and women grieve in medieval texts, but also how this grief affects their gender identity.

Among the questions the collection will address include but are not limited to: How is grief represented in the literature; art; medical, historical, and legal documents; and religious writing of the Middle Ages? How are these representations informed and/or constrained by gender? What role does gender play in public and private displays of grief? How do representations of grief reveal dissonances, contradictions, and anxieties surrounding culturally sanctioned gender norms?

While the primary focus of the collection will be on the Middle Ages (1000-1500), a few essays investigating these concerns within the context of the early modern period will be considered.

Please submit a proposal of approximately 300 words, as a Word attachment, by Monday, March 17, 2014 to:

Lee Templeton, Ph.D.
North Carolina Wesleyan College