Women and the Word: Gender and Literacy in Medieval and Early Renaissance Europe

January 16 – March 14

/ 2004

During the Middle Ages and the early Renaissance in Europe, the few women who gained access to education did so almost exclusively through the church. This exhibition explores medieval women’s relation to the written word—as authors, readers, laywomen, and members of religious orders. From accounts of women’s spiritual experiences to orders of prayer, from images in books printed by nuns in a convent to books on the conduct of wives, the materials brought together here suggest the role of literacy in women’s lives in times of political turbulence and social change.