TAGB: Genderdiskurse in Bettelorden, Stuttgart (05.07. – 06.07.2019)

Matthias Standke's picture

By Stefanie Neidhardt

Due to the generous support and hospitality of the Akademie der Diözese Rottenburg-Stutgart, the interdisciplinary workshop focussed on gender and gender narratives in the Mendicant orders of the late middle ages. Like different religious groups of the time, these orders were highly influential in dealing with and using gender as a means of interaction between the sexes. Unfortunately, there has been no systematic analysis of gender discourses in Mendicant orders up to now, although there have been lots of studies in recent years. Thus the main aim of this workshop was to inquire into the problem whether the Mendicant orders created a discourse of their own or at least different narrative strategies concerning gender. Furthermore, this workshop wanted to determine the extent of influence in the field of gender the Mendicant orders had on late medieval and early modern times.

After an introduction by CRISTINA ANDENNA (Dresden) and MATTHIAS STANDKE (Paderborn), the workshop was opened by LEZLIE KNOX (Marquette University). Her paper was based on the question of how clerical identities were constructed by means of negotiations between internalised ideals of secular masculinity and the everyday experiences of professed religious. By analysing Franciscan hagiographical sources, early accounts of the growth of the order, and in particular Salimbene's chronicle, she managed to show in what way a dialogue between secular and clerical identities played out for individual friars and how they negotiated being men and professed religious.

In her contribution CHRISTIANE RICHARD-ELSNER (Hagen) analysed the use of specific gender terms for children and adolescents. Sources for her analysis are the records of middle high German sermons of the Franciscan Berthold von Regensburg and the didactic text Der Renner by Hugo von Trimberg, who was influenced by Franciscan friars in the late medieval city of Bamberg. She was able to show that both authors used a non-specific gender perspective to speak about children.

JULIA SEEBERGER (Erfurt) investigated the connection between Agnes Blannbekin and the Friars Minor of Vienna in her paper. She proved interdependencies of both parties where the virgin spoke her mind concerning political issues of Vienna, even criticising the Franciscan order. Seeberger pointed out that different narrative discourses in the text allow to observe a neglection of social standard norms in the relation between confessor, the community of the Friars Minor and Agnes. Different narrative discourses in the text allow to observe a variation in roles and an overcoming of social norms and spaces in the relation between confessor, community of Friars Minor and the holy women.

BERT ROEST (Nijmegen) studied the large corpus of texts of religious instruction specifically geared toward women by the Franciscan friars active in Northern France. He pointed out that the peculiar character of sermons sought to shape and form identity more than others did by negative conceptions of religious femininity. He argued that this sort of text was mostly copied by religious women and asked whether the core message of a submissive female religious identity was internalised in textualization and use.

In her paper STEPHANIE KLUGE (Münster) dealt with the relationship between education on chastity and religious polemics in the Dominican order. By the Bonum universal de apibus (Thomas von Cantimpré, ca. 1460) she argued that Mendicant chastity formed masculinities as a mixture between older didactic transitions of monastic gender identities, diversity within the church, and religious polemics.

SYLVIE DUVAL (Lyon) showed in her material overview that Dominican preachers did not condemn non-enclosed women but established a hierarchy between the different kinds of religious women, identifying enclosed nuns as the most connected with heaven. During the introduction of the observant reform, the hortus conclusus motive was introduced to the sisters who to live in the strict enclosure. The new form of enclosure saw sisters were regarded by the citizens as semi-angelic beings.

In her paper STEFANIE NEIDHARDT (Tübingen) illustrated that reformers of the observant movement had to reestablish the relationship and roles of the male and female branches of the Dominican order within the province of Teutonia. With the help of instruction and education, the reformer Johannes Meyer not only created ideals of sisterly life within the reformed convents, but also introduced the sisters to a new, reformed type of Dominican brothers.

ADRIAN KAMMERER‘s (Bonn) contribution investigated gender and the spread of the Dominican third order with the help of the Italian friar Thomas Caffarini and the German observant reformer Johannes Meyer. Using Caffarini's work he answered the question why there were so many women of the third Dominican order. Johannes Meyer presented the third order as a possible perspective for women who lived in the world to live a religious life.

The numerous participants of the workshop, both historians and literary scholars, created a fruitful platform of discussion to suggest other comparative perspectives and to open new interdisciplinarity regarding various methodological approaches. Throughout the middle ages Mendicant orders played a huge role in the negotiation of gender discourses in relation to clerics, other orders or citizens and court societies. While this workshop primarily conducted a broad overview of internal perspectives in the Mendicant orders, the question of the impact of Mendicant gender discourses and especially their influence on a new role for women in late medieval cities or courts remains unexplored. This will be the topic of the next workshop, which is planned for 2020.

Conference overview:

Welcoming Address and introduction: Cristina Andenna (Dresden), Matthias Standke (Paderborn), Petra Steymans-Kurz (Stuttgart)

Moderation: Sigrid Hirbodian, Tübingen

Gender Trouble? Franciscan and Dominican Friars in Duecento Italy
Lezlie Knox, Marquette University USA

Kint und andere Heranwachsende. Ab wann wird das Geschlecht wichtig?
Christiane Richard-Elsner, Hagen

Die Wiener Minoriten und ihre Visionärin? Variierende Rollenverteilung im Fall der Agnes Blannbekin (gest. 1315)
Julia Seeberger, Erfurt

S’ensieult ung sermon qui nous fut preschies par feu notre venerable pere confesseur… Franciscan friars and the creation of models of female religious perfection at the turn of the sixteenth century
Bert Roest, Nijmegen

Moderation: Cristina Andenna, Dresden; Matthias Standke, Paderborn; Petra Steymans-Kurz, Stuttgart

Maskulinität, Keuschheit und religiöse Polemik im Bonum universale de apibus des Dominikaners Thomas von Cantimpré
Stephanie Kluge, Münster

Dominican Friars and Religious Women. Discourses on female claustration (13.–16.Jh.)
Sylvie Duval, Fondation Thiers/Ciham Lyon

"Sie kund von sweren lateinischen Büchern den text zu ordentlichem tüsch bringen" Bildungsdiskurse im Dominikanerorden
Stefanie M. Neidhardt, Tübingen

Geschlechterdiskurse am Werk? Gender und die Ausbreitung des dominikanischen Drittordens
Adrian Kammerer, Köln

Final discussion
Cristina Andenna, Dresden; Matthias Standke, Paderborn



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Redaktion: Constanze Baum – Lukas Büsse – Mark-Georg Dehrmann – Nils Gelker – Markus Malo – Alexander Nebrig – Johannes Schmidt

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