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Barking Abbey and Medieval Literary Culture


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Barking Abbey (founded c. 666) is hugely significant for those studying the literary production by and patronage of medieval women. It had one of the largest libraries of any English nunnery, and a history of women's education from the Anglo-Saxon period to the Dissolution; it was also the home of women writers of Latin and Anglo-Norman works, as well as of many Middle English manuscript books.
The essays in this volume map its literary history, offering a wide-ranging examination of its liturgical, historio-hagiographical, devotional, doctrinal, and administrative texts, with a particular focus on the important hagiographies produced there during the twelfth century. It thus makes a major contribution to the literary and cultural history of medieval England and a rich resource for the teaching of women's texts.

Professor Jennifer N. Brown teaches at Marymount Manhattan College; Professor Donna Alfano Bussell teaches at University of Illinois-Springfield.

Contributors: Diane Auslander, Alexandra Barratt, Emma Bérat, Jennifer N. Brown, Donna A. Bussell, Thelma Fenster, Stephanie Hollis, Thomas O'Donnell, Delbert Russell, Jill Stevenson, Kay Slocum, Lisa Weston, Jocelyn Wogan-Browne, Anne B. Yardley


To be welcomed as a significant study of female literacy and monastic life in the Middle Ages. ENGLISH

A strong resource. MAGISTRA 19.1, Summer 2013

[E]minent scholars from various disciplines present a variety of topics and approaches, that, taken together, emphasize the abbey's importance. The result is a volume that merits a place alongside other works on women's religious culture in the Middle Ages. [...] Recommended. CHOICE


First Published: 15 Nov 2012
13 Digit ISBN: 9781903153437
1 black and white illustrations
Pages: 350
Size: 23.4 x 15.6
Binding: Hardback
Imprint: York Medieval Press

Details updated on 05 Oct 2015


  • 1  Introduction: Barking's Lives, the Abbey and its Abbesses
  • 2  
  • 3  Barking's Monastic School, Late Seventh to Early Twelfth Century: History, Saint Making and Literary Culture
  • 4  The Saint-Maker and the Saint: Hildelith Creates Ethelburg
  • 5  Goscelin of Saint-Bertin and the Translation Ceremony for Saints Ethelburg, Hildelith, and Wulfhild
  • 6  'The Ladies Have Made Me Quite Fat': Authors and Patrons at Barking Abbey
  • 7  'Sun num n'i vult dire a ore': Identity Matters at Barking Abbey
  • 8  'Ce qu'ens li trovat, eut en sei': On the Equal Chastity of Queen Edith and King Edward in the Nun of Barking's La Vie d'Edouard Le Confesseur
  • 9  Body, Gender, and Nation in the Lives of Edward the Confessor
  • 10  Clemence and Catherine: The Life of St Catherine in its Norman and Anglo-Norman Context
  • 11  Cicero, Aelred and Guernes: The Politics of Love in Clemence of Barking's Catherine
  • 12  The Authority of Diversity: Communal Patronage in Le Gracial
  • 13  Keeping Body and Soul Together: The Charge to the Barking Cellaress
  • 14  Rhythmic Liturgy, Embodiment and Female Authority in Barking's Easter Plays
  • 15  Liturgy as the Site of Creative Engagement: Contributions of the Nuns of Barking
  • 16  Afterword: Barking and the Historiography of Female Community
  • 17  Bibliography

Guidance for Women in Twelfth-Century Convents

Guidance for Women in Twelfth-Century Convents

Language and Culture in Medieval Britain

Language and Culture in Medieval Britain

Leadership in Medieval English Nunneries

Leadership in Medieval English Nunneries