Thoughts on "Women's Studies" at Barnard, 1971, page 4
Complex questions about women's reactions to historical events and the long-term impact of these reactions on society are likely to be asked only if one is familiar with at least the broad outlines of women's history. In English there are no up-to—date studies on the history of women in the Western world. A recently reissued attempt at a survey was made by the first Dean of Barnard College. Emily Putnam's book, as its title The Lady indicates, was a history of the lady understood in a narrow sense as the genteel lady, the turn-of-the-century ideal. More modern approaches may be found in Mary Beard's woman as Force in History which is restricted by its topical emphasis, and in Doris Stenton's Women in English History_which stops in the nineteenth century and is confined to the history of English women. As to studies on women in more limited periods, there are serious gaps in modern scholarship. For example, in medieval history there are scholarly studies in French and German. However, among historians writing in English only Alice Kemp-Welch in the 1910's and somewhat more recently Eileen Power have attempted to give biographical sketches of a few outstanding medieval women. Eileen Power also wrote a history of English nunneries, beginning her account in the thirteenth century, omitting thus the history of some seven hundred years when opportunities for intellectual and spiritual fufillment were provided to women mainly in the monastic life. Some specialized studies are available, but for additional information on medieval women one has to go to primary sources. Social and literary histories may yield a chapter, a few paragraphs and most frequently nothing on the subject. In brief, the con- tributions of women to medieval society and culture and their legal and economic status in the Middle Ages are topics which have been neglected by modern historians writing in English. 4.