Performing women

Gender, self, and representation in late medieval Metz

By Susannah Crowder

Performing women


  • Hardcover

Book Information

  • Format: eBook
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-0641-4
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Published Date: August 2018
  • BIC Category: Literature & literary studies / Literary studies: classical, early & medieval, Literature, Theatre Studies, Medieval Literature, Literary studies: plays & playwrights, Literary studies: ancient & classical, DRAMA / Medieval, LITERARY CRITICISM / Medieval, Society & social sciences / Gender studies: women
  • Series: Manchester Medieval Literature and Culture


This book takes on a key problem in the history of drama: the 'exceptional' staging of the life of Catherine of Siena by a female actor and a female patron in 1468 Metz. Exploring the lives and performances of these previously anonymous women, the book brings the elusive figure of the female performer to centre stage. It integrates new approaches to drama, gender and patronage with a performance methodology to explore how the women of fifteenth-century Metz enacted varied kinds of performance that extended beyond the theatre. For example, decades before the 1468 play, Joan of Arc returned from the grave in the form of an impersonator named Claude. Offering a new paradigm of female performance that positions women at the core of public culture, Performing women is essential reading for scholars of pre-modern women and drama, and is also relevant to lecturers and students of late-medieval performance, religion and memory.


'We need both a deeper examination of theater archives in their local and temporal specificities and a more capacious notion of what constituted performance in medieval settings. That is precisely what we get in Susannah Crowder's brilliant and utterly readable new book, Performing Women...Crowder paints a remarkable picture of medieval performing women, who were able to write themselves into community and memory through "the cultivation of material and embodied practice" ...Crowder's achievement in this inspiring and pioneering book is to have placed women back in the spotlight, showing how they "contributed to their worlds in critical ways that often go unseen".'
H-France Review

'.a brilliant and utterly readable new book.'
Noah D. Guynn, University of California, Davis, H-France Review



Medieval and Renaissance Drama Society David Bevington prize for best new book in early drama studies 2019


Family tree of Catherine Baudoche and Catherine Gronnaix
1 Acting as Catherine: writing the history of female performers
2 'I, Catherine': biography, documentary culture, and public presence
3 Performance and the parish: space, memory, and material devotion
4 Negotiated devotions and performed histories: laywomen in monastic spaces
5 'Call me Claude': female actors, impersonation, and cultural transmission


Susannah Crowder is Assistant Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY

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