First-Year Writing Contest


First-Year Writing Contest 2015

Document Type


Date of Award

Spring 2015

Author Comments

Entering Professor Jones’s FIYS134: Women in Medieval Christianity with a number of preconceptions about how women in the Middle Ages lived, but, in actuality, knowing nil of the topic, I found the course deeply invigorating and transformative. Indeed, only too often do we consider history from an exclusively male perspective, and end up lacking an equally big piece of the mosaic, twisting the original story. Perchance, I have stumbled upon Hrotsvit of Gandersheim—her Slavic-sounding name caught my attention when I was browsing through an epistolary database. Seeing that Hrotsvit, an enigmatic German canoness who lived in the tenth century not only wrote letters to abbesses and emperors, but also composed histories and plays, my interest was piqued. Digging deeper, I discovered scholarly circles that delved into all kinds of aspects of Hrotsvit’s writing, attempting to reconstruct her persona. Within them, I decided to explore Jay Lees’s and Gerd Althoff’s argument that I was initially in favor of: that Hrotsvit wrote her history of Gandersheim in order to regain the monarch’s support for the convent, which was in alleged decline. Incorporating other historians’ perspectives, I demonstrate that this claim is only partially supported, for Gandersheim remained prominent through much of the tenth century regardless of Hrotsvit’s texts, though evidence suggests that its role had changed.

Faculty Advisor

Anna T. Jones



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