7 days
Level 1 - Introductory to Moderate

Women from Medieval and Renaissance Europe | Summer School for Seniors

This Summer School course will examine the life and deeds of a number of women who had lived in Medieval and Renaissance Europe. Women seldom wrote the history books in the period between 1050 and 1650. In fact, due to society's structural limitations, they generally didn’t write much at all, so their contributions have frequently been ignored until recently.

We will look at the way women lived over this period and concentrate on a number of the most influential women who led the way in their own fields and often changed the course of history.

This week-long short course is just one of a number of courses offered by Odyssey Traveller each year in Hobart. To view the range of summer school programs available, please follow this link.

Summer School for Seniors with Odyssey Traveller

Over the last twenty-five years, Odyssey’s small group Summer School program has given countless travellers an unforgettable educational and travel experience. Each summer, we prepare and offer fun and challenging special interest courses and programs designed to give travellers the options and opportunity to learn about history, religion, Australian culture, and the arts, among many other topics. These courses are designed in such a way that enthusiasts can deepen their knowledge of a particular topic or be initiated into new understandings on a subject.

We don't quite live on campus, but we will be staying in a comfortable hotel in central Hobart! We will enjoy welcome and farewell dinners in between our seminars, as well as daily morning tea and lunch.

These programs offered are tailor-made for mature-aged and senior travellers who are eager to explore in-depth a particular topic. Read more about our teaching philosophy in this article.

Below are some of the feedback from our Summer School programs in January 2019:

"Mal was an extraordinary leader in this program about extraordinary women. The depth and breadth of her preparation was amazing and the information book was of publishable quality. The mix of text, documentaries, and various YouTube videos all combined to not only extend our knowledge but kept us focused and interested throughout the course."

"Pav was an outstanding programme leader. His knowledge of plants and Tasmanian gardens is exceptional. His local knowledge and contacts are impressive. At all times he led the group with good humour and tolerance and at all times I felt he was totally in control of the programme. We were very fortunate to have him as our leader."

"The program was so well organised that each day ran very smoothly. Extraordinary women - extraordinary program!"

"All of the local guides were passionate about their places...Everyone was very proud of Tasmania [and] eager for us to get the most out of our visit."

For further information, check out the ‘Top 5’ or ‘Itinerary’ pages above. If you want to attend Odyssey's Summer School and take part in our social activities, please call or send us an email.

PDF of Tour PDF of Reading List

Overview: Overview: The Summer school program  begins with a welcome reception and dinner.

Accommodation: Ibis Styles Hobart

Overview: Introduction We’ll begin with a general introduction to the role played by women in the years between 800 and 1660. We’ll look at their treatment in childhood, their education, the work they did, marriage, leisure activities and their role in the political and religious life of their various countries. Most is known about women from the middle and upper classes so there will, naturally, be a concentration on these women. We will also look at how women were seen by their male contemporaries. We’ll look at what was written by men (and most writers were men) about women during this period. How were women presented by church men such as Thomas Aquinas or the Bolognese jurist, Gratian? What did writers such as Dante, Boccaccio and Shakespeare have to say about women? By the end of the week we should have come to some conclusions about just how accurate these writers were.

Accommodation: Ibis Styles Hobart

Overview: Warriors and Rulers Today we will concentrate on a number of women, some well-known in their day but now largely forgotten, who ruled (or should have ruled) significant territory. Some even led their armies into battle.

Aethelflaed, Queen of Mercia
Matilda, daughter of Henry I of England
Eleanor of Aquitaine
Margaret of Anjou
Isabella of Castile
Katerina Sforza

Accommodation: Ibis Styles Hobart

Overview: Artists Women painters during this period had a difficult task being accepted or recognised. Women were not expected to be painters and were excluded from most forms of official training. Painting was considered a “manly pursuit” and most women artists were trained at home by their fathers. Life drawing, involving, as it did, the depiction of the naked body, was particularly frowned upon. And yet, some women, particularly during the Renaissance period, managed to make a name for themselves. Among others, we will look at the life and work of painters such as:

Sofonisba Anguissola
Artemisia Gentileschi
Levinia Teerlinc
Lavinia Fontana
Fede Galizia

Accommodation: Ibis Styles Hobart

Overview: Writers and Composers Once again women writers and composers were far outnumbered by their male contemporaries in the Medieval and Renaissance periods. Only a handful are remembered today but a number of these were well known in their time and made significant contributions to their field. Important musicians and composers included:

Kassia of Constantinople, 810-865.
Hildegard of Bingen, although long ignored in the centuries after her death, is one composer and mystic who has been rediscovered and now takes her place in the recognised musical canon. (The names of many other composers in abbeys and monasteries will probably never be known.)
Francesca Caccini, Vittoria Aleotti and Barbara Strozzi were well known composers and musicians in the late Renaissance.

Writers under discussion might include:

Christine de Pisan
Vittoria Colonna
Veronica Gambara
Margery Kempe
And Mary Sidney, Countess of Pembroke.

Accommodation: Ibis Styles Hobart

Overview: And then some of the others… The morning of the final day will be devoted to a brief look at some of the other women who don’t fit into the above categories but were women of extraordinary ability in a number of other fields. We will look at the achievements of builders such as Bess of Hardwick, Italian academics (including the first female professor of law at Bologna University in 1237), collectors of art, business women and craftswomen. In the afternoon we will try to come to some conclusions about the very varied lives of women across this vast expanse of time. Though many were suppressed and oppressed by the male dominated society of the day, others, through accident of birth, talent and determination were able to rise above the limitations placed upon them by their age.

Accommodation: Ibis Styles Hobart

Overview: The tour will end after breakfast.

Examine how women were presented by contemporary male writers
Look at the reigns of monarchs such as Isabella of Spain and Eleanor of Aquitaine
Explore the life of the mystic and composer Hildegard of Bingen, a women whose music is popular almost a 1000 years after her death
Discover the work of artists such as Artemisia Gentileschi and writers such as Christine de Pizan
Enter into the world of many other diverse characters such as Katerina Sforza, Catherine de Medici, Vittoria Colonna, Felice Della Rovere and Margaret of Austria.

What’s included in our Tour

  • 6 nights in full en suite accommodation in central Hobart.
  • 6 breakfasts, 5 lunches, and 2 dinners.
  • Lectures and handouts as indicated.
  • Services of a study leader and lecturers.
  • Complimentary wifi.

What’s not included in our Tour

  • Comprehensive travel insurance.
  • Return airfares to and from Hobart.
  • Airport transfers to/from your Hobart Hotel
  • Costs of a personal nature.

Odyssey Summer Schools map

Medieval and Renaissance Women

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