Women’s Strategies of Memory

Women’s Strategies of Memory: Representations in Literature and Art

Philomela reflects on her metamorphosis. Eleanor of Castile constructs her future image with her tomb effigy. Chaucer’s Custance pretends to forget her origins. From the Iliad’s Hecuba to the Brut’s Tonwenne, women re-narrate their children’s infancy on the political stage. In wills, letters and literary commissions, women represent themselves in relation to the past. How straightforward are these acts of memory?

Memory, in the Middle Ages as now, was widely accessible to women as means of personal and political influence. Scholarship on medieval memory has principally explored men’s practices. But women, too, used and created strategic representations of the past to serve their own present or future purposes. We invite papers from any discipline, region and medieval period, which consider any aspect of the representation of women’s memory, including but not limited to the topics above.

Session 226

Women’s Strategies of Memory, I: Trauma and Reconstruction 
This panel focuses on literary representations of women’s tactics for managing and revising personal traumatic memory, as well as the place of these memories in broader memorial discourses. Examining Rabbinic literature to crusader romance and English cycle plays, speakers explore how female characters’ deliberate  reconstructions help to resist supersessionary retellings and to insert – in sensitive, healing, or aggressive ways – women’s perspectives into histories that seek to erase them.

Lucy Allen, ‘A Textile Habitus of Memory in Chaucer’s Legend of
Philomela’
Dvora Lederman Daniely, ‘Hanna the Maccabi: A Healing and Restorative Memory
from a Feminine Sexual Trauma in the Rabbinic Literature’
Daisy Black, ‘Re-Membering the Drowned: The Rebellious Recollection
of Noah’s Wife in the York, Chester, and Towneley
Flood Pageants’
Emma O’Loughlin Bérat, ‘Retelling Rape: Social Power and Historical
Perspective in La Fille Du Conte De Pontieu’

Session Time:     Mon. 02 July – 11.15-12.45

Session 226: Women’s Strategies of Memory, II: Visual Structures of Memory

This panel considers the ways in which women worked within established visual mnemonic systems and produced their own distinctive strategies of representation. Speakers explore how the creation and dissemination of material artefacts publicised connections between women, focusing on subjects from 4th-century sarcophagi to Swedish nuns’ books to theordinatio of Cassandra’s prophecy in Troilus and Criseyde.

David Carrillo-Rangel, ‘Do not forget me if you live longer than me’: Strategies of Memory in the Construction of a Prayerbook from Vadstena Abbey

Ruen-chuan Ma, Cassandra’s Reconstructed Memory: Page Design and Fatalism in Troilus and Criseyde

Catherine Gines Taylor, Lamenting Susanna: Iconography, Sarcophagi, and the Art of Memorial

Session Time:     Mon. 02 July – 14.15-15.45

Session 326: Women’s Strategies of Memory, III: Shaping the Political Landscape 

This panel focuses on the tactics historical women used to construct, reconstruct, and manipulate the political memory of their communities and dynasties from Western Europe and across the Byzantine Empire. Speakers explore how women’s strategic forgetting, preservation, and selection help to shape shared transhistorical and transnational memory.

Lana Sloutsky, Women, Memory, Nostalgia, and the Translation of Byzantine Visual Culture after 1453

Cynthia Turner Camp, Forgetting Ælfthryth at Wherwell Abbey

Juliana Amorim Goskes, Performing Dynastic Memory in 14th-Century France: Jeanne de Bourgogne (d. 1348) – Capetian Princess and Valois Queen

Session Time:     Mon. 02 July – 16.30-18.00