[Header Image: Livre des merveilles du monde. BNF MS français 2810, f. 80r]

This past weekend, the University of Iowa played host to a conference in honour of my doctoral advisor, Constance Berman, on the occasion of her retirement. I was one of the organisers, and we were thrilled to have so many people from across the US come to Iowa City and join us in sending Connie off to the next stage of her life and work.

The scope of the papers presented reflected the extraordinary scope of Connie’s academic interests over the course of her career: the power of women as lords and as queens; grappling with established historiographies which have dismissed women as historically irrelevant or which have tried to confine women to particular categories; the role of women and gender in the Cistercian Order; and women’s command of property and patronage. Many of the speakers prefaced their papers with tributes to how Connie had helped to inspire their work throughout the years. Given Connie’s commitment to supporting women’s history and female graduate students, it was only fitting that the symposium was held in the Senate Chambers of the Old Capitol—the place where in 1847 the state’s general assembly voted to establish the University of Iowa, the first public university in the United States to admit men and women on an equal basis.

The first session was introduced by Robert Bork, who paid tribute to Connie as a colleague and friend over many years.

The speakers for this session, on “Women, Power and Authority in Medieval Europe” were Andrew Steck (University of Iowa), Wendy Pfeffer (University of Louisville) and Michael E. Moore (University of Iowa).

Following the first session, attendees moved down the hill from the Old Capitol to the University of Iowa Special Collections, which greeted us with a display of some of its finest medieval manuscript holdings.

Michaela Hoenicke-Moore, a colleague of Connie’s for many years in the Department of History, delivered a moving tribute to Connie’s scholarship and her contributions as a colleague.

Connie than delivered the symposium’s keynote speech, reflecting on both her own career and on the history of medieval women’s studies as a whole.

The second day of the symposium began with a session on “New Approaches to the Studies of Medieval Religious Women.” The chair was Raymond Mentzer (University of Iowa). The speakers were Erika Lindgren (Wartburg College), Amy Livingstone (Wittenberg University), and Jennifer Kolpacoff Deane (University of Minnesota-Morris).

The morning’s second session was “Women, Gender, and the Cistercian Order.” Chaired by Chris Africa (University of Iowa), the speakers were Miriam Shadis (Ohio University), Erin Jordan (Old Dominion University) and Maeve Callan (Simpson College).

The final panel of papers was “Social Networks, Virtual Worlds.” Chaired by Jonathan Wilcox (University of Iowa), the speakers were Dauna Kiser (University of Iowa), Charlotte Cartwright (Christopher Newport University), and Rebecca Church (Macalester College).

The final event of the symposium was a roundtable entitled “Why Medieval Women Matter.” The panel was made up of specialists on the history of women in the Classical World, early modern Europe, and modern Britain and North America. They responded to the symposium’s papers, drawing similarities across the fields, and spurring conversation about new directions for women’s history. The participants were Marcia Lindgren (University of Iowa), Susan Stanfield (University of Texas-El Paso), Kathy Wilson (University of Iowa), Kathleen Kamerick (University of Iowa), and Katherine Massoth (University of Louisville).

You can find more photos on Flickr.