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Smith and Taylor, eds. Women and the Book: Assessing the Evidence (The British Library Studies in Medieval Culture). Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1997.

This collection of essays analyzes the many relationships between women and books during the Middle Ages, and pays special attention to images of women with books. It is divided into three parts: Images of Women, Images and Books By Women, and Images and Books for Women.

Relevant Quotations:

“This dual role of image as construction and as constructor must be particularly borne in mind when the images are of a largely disempowered group such as medieval women. In such cases, crucial questions spring instantly to mind: were the images made by men or by women? Were the images made for men or for women? Were the images about men or about women? It is not enough to look at an image of, say, a woman reading a book, without knowing who made the image, and why, and for whom, and for what reason” (16).

“Readers represented in late edieval art may also be nuns or laywomen who are, in turn, consciously modeling themselves on female saints and the Virgin. Female readers, noble or middle-class may be shown with their open books in church, present with a book at a holy scene such as the Deposition or Crucifixion, or simply reading in a garden, shop or at a lectern” (89).

Return to the History of Reading Bibliography.

  tl, 04.12.06

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