Sandra B Straubhaar
Associate Faculty — Ph.D., German Studies and Humanities, Stanford University
Medieval Scandinavia, Postmodern Medievalism, Historical Linguistics
WGS 340 • Birgitta, Hildegard, Margery
46945 • Fall 2011
Meets MWF 200pm-300pm SAC 5.102
(also listed as EUS 347, GRC 327E, R S 357, SCA 373)
DESCRIPTION OF COURSE:
The life and writings of Saint Birgitta of Sweden, fourteenth-century visionary, religious reformer and pilgrim, will be examined and compared with her predecessor Hildegard of Bingen (Germany) and her successor Margery Kempe (England). Social and historical contexts for all three visionary women will be explored in depth, particularly the factors behind Birgitta’s emerging as such an authoritative voice, both political and religious, within the milieu of fourteenth-century Europe. Other related figures, predominantly Julian of Norwich, but also Christina of Markyate, Christina Mirabilis, Angela de Foligno, Jeanne d’Arc and Catherine of Siena may be visited. We will also explore varieties of spirituality and spiritual thinking including: anchorism and asceticism; Marian piety and Goddess-imagery; virginity and female creativity; and bridal imagery. Any theoretical framework – religious; scientific; theological; medical; archetypal; or any other – will be allowed. No single orthodoxy or heterodoxy should become primary in our investigations: all may have a voice (and it need not be a consistent one). We will try to allow the past to speak for itself, always realizing that we, the readers/listeners/watchers, will necessarily apply some kind of “spin” based on our own backgrounds.
Two things to remember when you investigate the lives and thought of people of the past: 1. They were vastly different from us; and 2) They were uncannily like us. Both 1) and 2) are entirely true.
BOOKS and PACKET:
Birgitta of Sweden: Life and Selected Revelations, ed. Marguerite Tjader Harris. Paulist Press, 1990.
St. Bride and Her Book, ed. & tr. Julia Bolton Holloway. Boydell & Brewer, 2000.
ISBN 08599 15891
The Book of Margery Kempe, ed. & tr. B. A. Windeatt. Penguin, 1994.
ISBN 01404 32515
Sister of Wisdom: St. Hildegard’s Theology of the Feminine, by Barbara
Newman. University of California Press, 1987. ISBN 05202 11626
Revelations of Divine Love, by Julian of Norwich, ed. & tr. by Elizabeth Spearing
and A. C. Spearing. Penguin, 1998. ISBN 01404 46737
COURSE PACKET from IT Copy on MLK Blvd.
This course is a Writing Flag course, and most of your grade will come from the evaluation of writing-related activities.
The breakdown is like this:
Quizzes on Reading (on most days when readings are due): 10 %
Two six-page reaction papers or position papers, 15% each = 30 %
In-class peer review activities on these papers: 10 %
Reading Journals (turned in every other Wednesday) 15 %
One three- to five-page group project (groups of 3-4): 15 %
One six-page research paper: 20 %