MSS Lunch Lecture Julie Hotchin, 'Re-forming space: gender and material culture in late medieval women’s monasteries'

28-01-2020 from 10:00 to 11:00
Ghent, Plateau-Rozier building, 1st floor, Lecture Room 1.3 (entrance Rozier 44)
Stefan Meysman
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First lunch lecture of the MSS 2019-2020, 2nd semester

For the first lunch lecture of the second semester of the MSS 2019-2020, we have the pleasure of hosting Julie Hotchin (Autralia National University). She will speak about 'Re-forming space: gender and material culture in late medieval women’s monasteries'.

Please note that this lunch lecture will take place in the 'Simon Stevin Meeting Room' in the Plateau building (Jozef Plateaustraat 22)


Alterations to the built fabric and furnishing of monastic spaces were understood as visible signs of the spiritual reform of the inhabitants of the community. While earlier studies tended to emphasise how changes to monastic spaces frequently restricted religious women, recent scholarly attention to religious women’s involvement in the processes of reform have highlighted how women commissioned, designed and managed architectural and artistic changes to their cloister to express their spiritual aspirations and position. In Germany, the convent superior worked with – or at times, against – the monastery’s provost and patrons to reshape the material environment of the cloister. In this talk I draw on the material and textual evidence from the convents of Lüne and Medingen in northern Germany to explore how nuns and their provosts reconfigured monastic space and its adornment to realise spiritual reform and negotiate authority. I examine the material practices of the convent superior and provost in the renovation and decoration of communal spaces such as the refectory and cloister, textile production and visual programs to demonstrate how nuns asserted their presence and authority through re-forming the fabric of their monastery.


Julie Hotchin is a Visiting Scholar in the School of History, at the Australian National University. She is a historian of medieval religious and cultural history, with a particular focus on the intersections between women’s devotional and intellectual activities in late medieval Germany. She has published on women’s monastic life; manuscript production, use and exchange; religious materiality; and the role of emotions in devotional experience. Her current project examines gender and authority in late medieval monastic reform. She is the editor (with Fiona J. Griffiths) of Partners in Spirit: Women, Men and Religious Life in Germany, 1100 – 1500 (Brepols, 2014), and (with Merridee Bailey and Tania Colwell) of Women and Work in Pre-Modern Europe, c. 1100 - 1800: Experiences, Relationships and Cultural Representations (Routledge, 2018). She is currently co-editing a volume provisionally titled Gendered Perspectives on Monastic Reform in the Medieval West c. 800 – 1500 with Jirki Thibaut (Ghent University).