Writing History with Female Religious Communities- Medieval and Modern Hagiography

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The importance of hagiographies for the study of early medieval history cannot be overstated. These texts are used to illuminate contemporary social, religious, and political practices, and to understand the intellectual environment of hagiographers. However, an over-emphasis on the hagiographer’s agenda, though crucial for understanding a work’s historical context, sometimes introduces too great a separation between their endeavour as an individual and the role of their protagonist’s community in preserving and curating their own history. This disparity can be particularly pronounced for female religious figures, as the earliest surviving sources concerning their lives often came from outside their monasteries and were written by men.

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Máirín MacCarron