possibly Aphra Behn and Hrotsvitha. Surely any worthy plays by women
Hrotsvitha (c.930-c.1002), the first known playwright since
The only contemporary sources of information about Hrotsvitha
This book, part of Macmillan's New Middle Ages series, which presents transdisciplinary studies of medieval culture, pursues this argument primarily with a literary analysis of virgin martyr accounts beginning with Perpetua and Thecla in the second century (whom the author notes were neither both virgins and martyrs), through the patristic period with treatment of Ambrose, Jerome, and others, into the Middle Ages, with consideration of virgin martyr accounts by male writers such as Aldhelm and Wace, and female writers such as Hrotsvitha
, Clemence, and Hildegard.
In contrast to such Latinists as the tenth-century Hrotsvitha
von Gandersheim or the twelfth-century Hildegard von Bingen, early modern German nuns rarely produced work in Latin (with the notable exception of Caritas Pirckheimer).
(1) See, for example, Mary Marguerite Butler, Hrotsvitha
: The Theatricality of Her Plays (New York, 1960), 72; C.
(Look for her in libran catalogs as Hrotsvitha
.) Annie Dillard, Sandra Cisneros, Julia Alverez, and Mary Gordon are some of the contemporary writers in the book.
, a Benedictine nun of Gandersheim in Saxony, had taken Terence as her model for half a dozen plays in Latin prose, designed to glorify chastity and celebrate the constancy of martyrs.
However, later chapters focus on German texts probably less well known to North American audiences, e.g., the mystical writings of Hrotsvitha
of Gandersheim, poetry of Friedrich Spee and Friedrich Klopstock, a novel of Clemens Brentano, plays by Friedrich Hebbel and Paul Heyse, and sermons of Eugen Drewermann.
Staged in early Christian Rome and based on a 10th-century play by the German nun and writer Hrotsvitha
, the one-hour mystery play/opera effectively conveyed the naive mysticism of the time through a refined and complex score.
This book is a welcome presentation and analysis of the medieval textual tradition purporting to defend the good name of women, from Marbod of Rennes (and his scriptural sources) and Hrotsvitha
of Gandersheim to Christine de Pizan, Chaucer, and Jean Le Fevre.