Remodeling the narrative of women and the built environment in the Middle Ages
Metadata[+] Show full item record
Scholarship on the design, construction, decoration, and reception of the built environment during the medieval era has tended to focus on men as the primary makers and default users of this environment. However, recent scholars have examined a variety of media -- including art, architecture, and texts -- and uncovered the many contributions that medieval women made to these fields. By examining feminist scholarship and historiography, this thesis explores three case studies -- elite and non-elite medieval women within male-dominated design spaces, Eleanor of Castile and her acquisition of property, and Christine de Pizan's manipulation of an architectural trope -- through a feminist lens to highlight the various ways in which medieval women worked in gendered environments, and carved out space and claimed agency through their contributions to the design world in the Middle Ages. These case studies include physical structures that were created as a result of inherited or acquired wealth, idealized spaces that were designed to protect women against the vicious attacks of men, and explores conditional situations in which both elite and non-elite women worked in the built environment. This thesis recognizes the struggles that these women endured in order to create space for themselves within societal confines, and contributes to and expands the scholarship surrounding the multifaceted ways in which women contributed to the design world in the Middle Ages. These women cleverly maneuvered through gendered spaces; capitalized on their elite roles in their households; acquired and managed property; and manipulated tropes and disseminated knowledge during a time rife with patriarchal norms.