MUS 261
The Saint and the Countess: Lost Voices of Medieval Women Spring 2019
Division I Writing Skills
Cross-listed WGSS 261 / MUS 261
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Very few female voices from the Middle Ages are audible today; most of the music, poetry, and other writings that survives reveals the creativity and expresses the attitudes of men. This course will explore the experiences and viewpoints of medieval women through the lens of the poetry and songs of two exceptional 12th-century figures: the German abbess Hildegard of Bingen, whose long and immensely productive life was shaped by the requirements of monastic culture; and the French Countess of Dia in Provence, whose elusive life and works exemplify the dynamics of aristocratic court culture. We will ask how these and other musical women active in both the sacred and the secular spheres (such as the nun Birgitta of Sweden, and Queen Blanche of Castile) negotiated their places and made their voices heard within the patriarchal society of their time. We will examine the ways in which these contrasting environments informed the different outlooks, ideas, and aesthetics expressed in the words and music of their songs. Along the way we will critically assess how these lost voices have been recreated to speak to us today through recordings and film.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 10
Expected: 6
Class#: 3828
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: evaluation based on several short papers and presentations, and a final project and presentation
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: current or prospective Music and Women's Gender & Sexuality Studies majors
Distributions: Division I Writing Skills
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
WGSS 261 Division I MUS 261 Division I

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