Celebrating Women’s History Month

To mark Women’s History Month we asked our authors to pick a woman from their research whose contributions should be better recognized. We’re excited to share their suggestions with you to commemorate and encourage the continued study and celebration of the vital role of women in history.

Medieval Women Religious, c. 800-c. 1500

New Perspectives
Edited by Kimm Curran and Janet Burton

St Hedwig of Silesia (1174–†1243), duchess of Poland
Hedwig was educated in a women’s religious community in her early years, a member of a well-connected family, considered pious, and participated in works of charity, especially for women. She was the founder of the women’s community at Trebnitz, Poland and after the death of her husband, she moved into the community, where her daughter, Gertrude, was abbess, and resided there as a lay sister until her death. Her vitae shows her praying, performing miracles, giving back to those in need, and founding the religious community of Trebnitz and features on the cover of this volume.

pp. 1-2, incl cover

Grete Meisel-Hess

The New Woman and the Sexual Crisis
by Helga Thorson

A best-selling author, Grete Meisel-Hess tackled significant issues (women’s rights, reproductive rights, colonialism) in her early twentieth-century fiction and in her books on sexology—sometimes in progressive but also in unsettling ways. A feminist in the age of Freud, her writing challenged the literary and medical establishments in Austria and Germany—placing the Jewish New Woman center stage.

Women’s Literary Cultures in the Global Middle Ages

Speaking Internationally
Edited by Kathryn Loveridge, Liz Herbert McAvoy, Sue Niebrzydowski and Vicki Kay Price

‘Mitchitsuna’s Mother’ (pp. 61-79), writing in the Japanese Heian period (794-1185), documented her privileged but unfulfilled life in her Kagerō Diary. Here, she challenges ‘the old tales’ about women told by the patriarchal court and shows how a woman’s recorded perspective could – and still can – enable self-discovery, self-assertion and self-knowledge.

The Spiritual Consciousness of Carmen Martín Gaite

The Whole of Life has Meaning
by Anne-Marie Storrs

For Spanish writer Carmen Martín Gaite, what matters is the inner world. Her stories of characters who respond to their inner worlds, and of those who don’t, throw light onto the only path that – for her – leads to real change.

Irish Women in Religious Orders, 1530-1700

Suppression, Migration and Reintegration
by Bronagh Ann McShane

Sister Elizabeth of St Mary Purcell (fl. 1665), a Franciscan tertiary from Kilkenny, in the south-east of Ireland. In May 1665 she travelled to London to seek assistance from the recently crowned King Charles II (1630-85) in order that she might ‘goe to Portugall to live there where other Eirish religious women lives [sic.] in Lisboune’.
Her petition to the king survives in the National Archives.

In my book she is discussed on pp 147-49.

Reimagining the Gendered Nation

Citizenship and Human Rights in Postcolonial Kenya
by Christina Kenny

Priscilla Abwao was the second woman member of the Kenyan Legislative Council, joining in 1961. Abwao was a fierce advocate for African women, making many key arguments in support of expanded women’s education and opportunities in the early 1960s that remain frustratingly familiar to Kenyan women’s rights advocates today.

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