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Women and the Sacred

This IMEMS research strand builds on the expertise of many scholars at Aberystwyth and Bangor on the relationship between gender and religious experience in the medieval and early modern periods. Specific topics (being studied by historians, musicologists, and specialists in literature, law and Celtic studies) include women’s devotional poetry; sacred music and female performance; gendered authorship - including autobiographical and household writings; women’s lives in sanctified settings from the anchorites’ cell to the domestic still-room; women’s religion and age; gendered reading practices; and women’s participation in unorthodox groups or settings. Whilst supporting these enquiries, however, the strand’s main aim is to bring people together to formulate new interdisciplinary studies, and to encourage collaboration with scholars well beyond IMEMS’ two institutional bases. The strand’s leaders believe that only through such co-operation will we fully understand the subtle and complex interactions between women and the realms of life which might be termed sacred.

The research undertaken by the strand includes analysis of masculinity in relation to femininity, and specialists in all aspects of gender and religion are welcome to join its events and discussions, but the focus will remain women’s experience of the sacred. This is a neglected area in such fields as ecclesiastical and social history, studies of literature which concentrate on an established canon, and musicology: its cross-disciplinary study is likely to generate exciting new discoveries into past cultures and societies, as well as providing insights into a contemporary world where reactions to faith are pressing issues.

To find out more about the activities of the ‘Women and the sacred’ strand, and join its discussions, click on the links below:

Professor Helen Wilcox

Strand Co-ordinator


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