The Ethics of Everyday Life: Vernacular Devotional Literature by Women in Germany's Long Fifteenth Century


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




By historicizing fifteenth-century women’s literature, this project uncovers what women hoped to change, maintain, or gain in their spiritual and personal lives, during an era often overlooked in favor of sixteenth-century foment. Up to eighty percent of all fifteenth-century manuscripts are in the vernacular, and most of these were written by women for women’s daily use and remain unread. These women often saw themselves as agents of scriptural authority, and they also used devotional literatures for their own ends. This project argues that both nuns and laywomen used devotional narratives for self-fashioning, memorialization, and cultural critique. Whether bound to god by monastic vows or by familial responsibilities, these women placed “mundane” concerns within gendered textual frames of Christian salvation.