Off-campus SJSU users: To download campus access theses, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your SJSU library user name and PIN.

Publication Date

Summer 2009

Degree Type

Thesis - Campus Access Only

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Jack Bernhardt

Subject Areas

Women's Studies; History, Medieval; Literature, English


The purposes of this thesis are to determine why and how a few late medieval Englishwomen managed to produce books, and to discover what made them successful. To this end, this study examines the lives of five authoresses and the content of their works within the context of the authorial difficulties they confronted. As a result, this thesis identifies the social, ecclesiastical, and practical impediments faced by these women, including long-ingrained gender biases against female authorship.This study also evaluates the risks associated with these women's choice to employ authorial self-expression deemed inappropriate by the establishment. The responses of the five authoresses in this study to the difficulties they faced demonstrate how they succeeded in producing their books and how they resourcefully exerted female power and authority in ways unprecedented by Englishwomen. Their success also made them models for subsequent female authors in England.