The studies within this volume apply insights gained
from gender studies to re-consider the way knowledge and learning was
transmitted in medieval Europe 1200–1550. Traditional scholarship
has largely concentrated on the clerical and academic context of
conventional learning. It tended to focus on the contents and methods
of formal education, as well as on a small group of educational
institutions from which women were excluded. In this volume, authors
consider how learning was transmitted outside the schools, in
particular within women’s communities. They raise a range of
questions: how was knowledge transmitted in an oral context, what varieties of knowledge were
available to communities of women? What kinds of learning are
characteristic of such communities? What techniques did women develop
to preserve and transmit their knowledge and how was it valorized both
within their communities, and by ‘authoritative’ outsiders?
Under what circumstances could women themselves gain authority in
passing on knowledge to a wider audience?