On 1 June 2023, Unerhörte Frauen. Die Netzwerke der Nonnen im Mittelalter, a new book on the networks of the nuns in the Middle Ages by Henrike Lähnemann and Eva Schlotheuber came out. It presents the world of the religious women in their own voices and art works, unlocking rich resources, particularly from late medieval Northern German convents. Order here
Update: An English translation is forthcoming with Open Book Publishing under the title The Life of Nuns: Love, Politics, and Religion in Medieval Women’s Convents, due out July 2024!
Remarkable Women (literally: unheard BUT also implying courageous, outspoken…). The Networks of the Nuns in the Middle Ages presents a rich array of original source material which for the first time unlocks the lives of these religious women from their perspective. Based on the diary of a nun from Braunschweig and 1.800 previously unpublished letters from the Benedictine convent of Lüne. Available in German from the publisher Ullstein in the series Propyläen.
From the publisher’s website: Love, Politics and Everyday Life in Medieval Women’s Convents
Half of those who entered a monastic community in the Middle Ages were women. What were their motives? What was their cloistered life like? How did they think and how did they live? Henrike Lähnemann and Eva Schlotheuber offer a lively insight into the largely unknown life and work of religious women. Original source material shows the world of the nuns from their perspective for the first time. Reading sample in German. Reading sample in English.
HENRIKE LÄHNEMANN is the first woman to be appointed to a chair in the Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages at the University of Oxford, where she teaches German literature of the Middle Ages and works on textual and visual evidence from the women’s convents of northern Germany.
EVA SCHLOTHEUBER is Professor of Medieval History at Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf, where she researches and teaches on the education and lifeworld of religious women. She was the first woman to chair the Association of Historians of Germany from 2016 to 2021.
Whole generations of educated, argumentative and enterprising nuns have been overlooked by historiography. Now, Henrike Lähnemann and Eva Schlotheuber’s account shows that nuns were an active and influential part of medieval society. They acted as role models and were in active in exchange with other convents, city representatives and church authority. They self-confidently organised their demanding daily lives, ran the convents as successful businesses and offered the girls studying in the convent school a comprehensive educational programme. In stories from previously inaccessible diaries and letters, the women themselves speak for the first time about many aspects of their lives.
The book will be presented in a number of readings and other events across Germany, with a prominent launch on 28 July 2023, 3:30pm at Kloster Lüne hosted by the newly elected Abbess Amélie Gräfin zu Dohna, the 23rd Protestant Abbess of the convent. The launch will start with a special guided tour highlighting the material culture featured in the book, including the title image of the vision of the nun Dorothea von Meding, and will conclude with Vespers on the nuns’ choir.
18 July 2023 6:15pm guest lecture at the German Department as part of the SFB ‘Andere Ästhetik’ in Tübingen.
19 July 2:15pm as part of the end-of-year celebration of the MAZ (Mittelalterzentrum) at FRIAS (Freiburg Institute of Advanced Studies). Recording of the book presentation on the FRIAS youtube channel.
28 July 3pm at Kloster Lüne, followed by Vespers on the nuns choir
29 July 7pm reading from the book at Kloster Mariensee
22 August 7pm reading from the book at the Jesuitenbibliothek Zürich
18 December 7:30pm reading from the book at the Marktkirche Goslar
21 December 6:45pm as guests on the red sofa at NDR DAS!
11 July 2024, 6:15pm: Studium generale Freiburg: ‘Bücher, über die man spricht’
- Interview Paradiesgarten, kein Knast: Nonnen und ihre Klausur by Kirsten Dietrich with Henrike Lähnemann on enclosure, ending with praise for “228 kurzweilige Seiten” (enjoyable pages).
- Review Läuse, Lebkuchen und Liebesbezeugungen für Christus on 3 June 2023 in domradio.de & several other publications, source: KNA by Christiane Laudage
- Review ‘Spirituelle Führungskräfte’ by Christina Lutter on 14 June 2023 in the F.A.Z. (a summary of this review available on perlentaucher and the full text on buecher.de)
- Review ‘Unerhörte Nonnen’ in the Evangelische Zeitung on 7 June 2023, on evangelisch.de and on katholisch.de and Sonntag in Sachsen 15 August, source: epd (Karen Miether’s interview with Eva Schlotheuber)
- Review ‘Wunderbare Zeitreise’ by Walter Probaschnig on the blog literatur outdoors on 25 June 2023
- Review by Andrea Roedig as Buchkritik podcast for Deutschlandfunk Kultur and as pdf Die mächtigen Bräute Christi on 5 July 2023
- Review by Andreas Trojan for ORF Radiothek on 7 July 2023
- Ranking by RBB Kultur among the Top Ten Non-Fiction Books August 2023
In conversation with Georgios Chatzoudis – podcast in the series “Zu Gast bei L.I.S.A.“, the media server of the Gerda Henkel Stiftung
- Deutschlandfunk Interview by Andreas Main with Eva Schlotheuber on 9 October 2023
- Epochentrotter Podcast 10 Jan. 2024
- literaturkritik.de by Rahel Micklich
- COSMO Interview 2 Sept. 2023 on Radio Bremen by Hendrik Plaß with Henrike Lähnemann on the agency of the nuns