Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Gender and the Family

The Gender and Medieval Studies Conference will be hosted in January 2010, by the Centre for the Study of the Middle Ages (CeSMA) at the University of Birmingham. The programme organisers welcome proposals for 20 minute papers on the following topic by 1st September 2009:

Family is arguably the fundamental and universal unit of gendered experience. Gender identities and embodied understandings of the world are acquired through socialization into family configurations of relatedness. This conference will examine the functions and representations of the medieval family in a range of contexts, addressing the ways in which the family could be used to reinforce or challenge wider forms of association and provide a rich metaphorical language for use in the articulation and legitimization of wider social institutions and hierarchies. It will examine the ways in which gender roles inform the definition of the medieval family and affect its internal economy, emotional dynamics, and links to other institutions and social networks.

We invite papers on a range of themes, which may cover: defining the family; the changing meanings of relatedness within the family in the medieval period, including motherhood, fatherhood, sisterhood, and brotherhood, and the wider family; roles of family members – for example, in socializing the young; the link between family and patriarchy, including the family’s uneven distribution of gender roles and opportunities among sons and daughters; images of the Holy Family and their implications for gendered behaviour in medieval society; the queer family and the motherhood of Christ; royal families and the interaction of gender and power; the monastic community as family and the (cross-gendered) mapping of family roles onto ecclesiastical ones; female saints and the dysfunctional family; biblical depictions of the family and their interpretation by medieval cultures; the meanings of family in minority medieval communities, including Jewish and Islamic society.

We hope to welcome scholars and perspectives from a range of disciplines, including history, literature, art history and archaeology, and to promote a productive and interdisciplinary discussion of this area. It is anticipated that proceedings will be published after the conference. Please send your submission to Simon Yarrow and Philippa Semper ( by 1 September, 2009.


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