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History of the Research Project: "Women and Power in Medieval East Central Europe"

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image of East Central Europe

Women have been generally relegated to the margins of traditional historiography. They have often been presented as romantic heroines - good or bad - but most of the time they were utterly neglected as historical actors. A prevalent tendency of the nouvelle histoire is the revision of these inherited and by now strongly dated approaches. Modern histori ans try to reconstruct how women lived and worked in the past; they analyze women's roles and functions as integral parts of larger socio-historical structures. While in Western Europe and in the United States women's history has become a research field on its own and produced remarkable results, in East Central Europe this change of attitude towards women in history has not yet happened. By launching a research project on "Women and Power in East Central Europe," the Central European University's Department of Medieval Studies sought to encourage young scholars of the region to study and to reevaluate the roles and positions of women in medieval history. We aimed at making the medieval experience of the region a little less "tiresome" and more interesting by including women's political and cultural presence - the role and function of queens, princesses, and aristocratic women - into the sphere of exploranda and explananda.


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