Women Book Owners in Late-Medieval Francophone Europe: 1350 – 1500

This open-access digital humanities project, which I am pursing in collaboration with S.C. Kaplan (Rice University), aims to collect, organize, and present data related to medieval laywomen and their books.

BL Harley MS 4431

Through an interactive map of Europe, researchers will be able to visualize networks of manuscripts, texts, and readers and explore the libraries and peregrinations of woman book owners. The project aims to advance interdisciplinary research by creating a tool that facilitates the investigation of transregional social and literary communities.

The data collected in the beta-version of the project has the potential to shift scholarly paradigms by challenging narratives of national literary history and uncovering the active role played by women in creating and consuming literary and material culture and in circulating texts across national, geographic, and generational borders.

The project will serve as a resource for scholar, educators, and students, supporting basic research projects on medieval women book owners as well as sustained investigation of library curation, literary consumption, and transnational circulation.

The geographic scope of the project will initially be limited to England and French-speaking regions on the continent, including France and Burgundy. The time frame of the project is currently bounded between 1350 and 1500, a period of intense political, interfamilial, and interpersonal changes and exchanges due to the Hundred Years War. At the moment, the core of the database concerns aristocratic laywomen and their books because data on these women is the most readily available. We hope to eventually expand the project to include women from other classes and additional regions of interest, such as Portugal, Spain, Italy, and Germany.