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Cooperative Piety among Monastic and Secular Women in Late Medieval Germany

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Scholarship has demonstrated that religious life for women was more fluid, more tied to the secular world and to gender ideologies, than strict categorizations of monastic versus lay, regular versus extraregular, visual versus intellectual allows. This article argues for the conceptualization and study of female monasticism, and female spirituality in general, as part of a broad continuum—as part of a shared culture of devotional practices—accepted and embraced (to a greater or lesser extent) by both men and women, secular and lay. More specifically, it explores the interaction between secular and professed women in support of monastic life, monastic devotion, and more broadly, medieval religious culture. Religious and lay women collaborated and cooperated to support specific religious communities and particular devotional practices, like the nuns' performance of the liturgy or their duty to remember patrons as part of the monastic memoria. Such collaboration and cooperation, however, has often escaped the notice of historians.

Affiliations: 1: University of Nebraska at Omaha


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