By Kimberley Benedict

This research examines partnerships among medieval ladies and scribes. Kimberly Benedict argues that medieval girl visionaries usually play fashionable roles in collaboration whereas their male amanuenses serves as helps and foils.

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Additional info for Writing Partnerships between Religious Women and Scribes in the Middle Ages (Studies in Medieval History and Culture, 27)

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Because God was present in these events as the Christ child rather than as the Father, artists could legitimately include him in pictures alongside Mary, leaving no doubt as to the collaborative nature of their relationship. Plate 1 The Magnificat. ). Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi. In a painting by Sandro Botticelli, for example, Mary composes the Magnificat while holding the Christ child in her arms (See Plate 1). A close examination of the picture shows that she has gotten as far as the first word of the line, “For he that is mighty hath magnified me” (Bernard 234).

The concession serves to downplay, but not eliminate, the treatise’s subtle challenge to conventional gender roles within the church. Last but not least, treatises generally examine collaboration from a single point of view. In the first treatise, information about Hildegard’s partnerships comes from God, who speaks as an omniscient narrator. In the second and third treatises, information about the partnerships comes from Hildegard herself, who narrates her collaborative experiences using a first-person point of view.

The scribe, who was a priest, read aloud to Margery from a book produced collaboratively by Birgitta of Sweden and her advisors; he also may have told Margery about the literary partnership between Marie d’Oignies and Jacques de Vitry (Kempe 143, 152-53). In rare instances where the writing team consisted entirely of laypersons — as was the case with Catherine of Siena and her male colleagues — who did not have access to ecclesiastical records, knowledge of early partnerships could have been obtained through sermons or conversations with confessors and priests.

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