Call for Papers – Beyond Exeptionalism

In 1973, Jo Ann McNamara and Suzanne Fonay Wemple wrote “The Power of Women through the Family” which established the paradigm for understanding elite women’s access to power in the early medieval period, and its decline starting in the late eleventh century. Since the early 1980s, the study of elite women (noble and royal) has flourished and undermined both the timing and extent of elite women’s loss of power during the High Middle Ages.  This body of work has disproved the “exceptional” status accorded to elite women who exercised power. Nevertheless, despite everything we have learned in the last forty-plus years, it is still not unusual to see studies that assume that power belonged in male hands, and that characterize women exercising power as “exceptions to the rule.”

This interdisciplinary conference aims to foster new avenues and interpretations of elite women and power in the high medieval period, c. 1100-c. 1400 to move the field “beyond exceptionalism”.

Featured Speaker: Miriam Shadis (Ohio University) and ?

Possible topics include but are not limited to:

elite women and bureaucracy
networks and alliances

This conference will be held at The Ohio State University (Mansfield, Ohio), 18-19 September 2015.

The deadline for proposals is June 1, 2015. Session chairs and individual presenters will be informed of acceptance no later than June 30, 2015.  Those wishing to participate should please submit an abstract of approximately 250 words to Please attach your abstract to your email as a Microsoft Word or PDF file. Included with 250‑word abstracts or session proposals (including individual abstracts) should be the following information:

  • name of presenter(s)
  • participant category (faculty, graduate student, undergraduate, or independent scholar)
  • college/university affiliation
  • mailing address
  • email address
  • audio/visual requirements and any other special requests
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