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Lectures from the Allen Room and the Wertheim Study: Reading Catherine of Siena : Women's Devotion in Medieval England

December 12, 2013

Program Locations:

Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, South Court Auditorium
General Research Division

Catherine of Siena was a remarkably popular saint in medieval England, although she has long been overshadowed by her more popular namesake, Catherine of Alexandria. In this talk I would like to look at one particular manuscript, Harley 2409, which contains two long passages concerning Catherine taken from two very different sources. I will show how a medieval scribe has effectively created a new text by clipping and combining disparate elements to make one cohesive narrative for his readers, directing them in what they should take from Catherine's writings. The manuscript, an anthology of devotional works, was known to be owned by at least three different women (including the Prioress of a convent in Yorkshire), so also provides clues as to women's reading practices in late medieval England. 

Jennifer N. Brown, a writer in residence in the Library's Wertheim Study, is an Associate Professor of English and World Literature at Marymount Manhattan College. Her publications center on women's reading and writing in the Middle Ages, including the books Three Women of Liège (Brepols Press, 2008), Barking Abbey and Medieval Literary Culture (co-edited with Donna Bussell, York Medieval Press, 2012), and Sexuality, Sociality and Cosomology in Medieval Literary Texts (co-edited with Marla Segol, Palgrave Press, 2013). 

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