“A Happy Hunting Ground”? The relationship between the nuns of Godstow Abbey and the Scholars of Oxford

About this talk

Content Warning: Some readings and/or other content in this talk will include the academic discussion of topics that some students may find offensive and/or traumatizing. Specially, this talk includes mention of rape and sexual abuse. This content features towards the end of the talk, and a verbal warning is provided by before the discussion begins.

During the Medieval period there were several sources which discussed the relationships between nuns and scholars. Elena Rossi explores how misogyny and ulterior motives led to some relationships being viewed inappropriately, in the case of the nuns of Godstow Abbey and the Scholars of Oxford. In this talk, Elena Rossi considers how these relationships came about and the true motivations, as well as why individuals and bishops chose to view the relationships as inherently sexual.  This talk will be particularly thought-provoking for those with an interest in History, Religion, Philosophy, English, Sociology and Classics.

Find the link to the talk below, and then scroll down for some further resources on this topic!

Further Resources

If you are interested in the role of nunneries for the education of women and how this intersects with class attitudes, then have a look at this brief article from History.com, which you can find by clicking here.

The book Gender in medieval places, spaces and thresholds from Blud, Heath and Klafter unites the contributions of several scholars on the topic of spaces and thresholds during the medieval period, from a gender-based perspective, to form conclusions on how significantly gender played a role in defining individuals places, spaces and thresholds at the time. The most relevant chapters if you enjoyed this talk will be those in Section I: Sacred Space. If this sounds like something you would be interested in, then you can find the book here

For a more archaeological approach to understanding the history of Godstow Abbey, the Ashmolean Museum which is part of the University of Oxford, has put together a page on the medieval tiles used in Godstow Abbey to show how we can use archaeology to learn about the past. You can access it here.

Elena Rossi
Elena Rossi

Elena Rossi is a 2nd Year DPhil student in History at Magdalen College, Oxford. Elena Rossi previously completed a BA at Royal Holloway, before completing a MA in Medieval History at Queen Mary University of London. Elena Rossi’s research focusing on how women in the Medieval period encountered Universities and worlds of learning, predominantly in Oxford, Paris and Bologna, as well as considering the history of gender and sexuality in this period.
To learn more about Elena Rossi’s research and interests click here :