Social representations of memory and gender in later medieval England

Kane, B (2012) 'Social representations of memory and gender in later medieval England.' Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science, 46 (4). pp. 544-558. ISSN 1932-4502

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Social representations in later medieval culture have attracted little attention amongst psychologists, pre-dating the development of the so-called ‘public sphere’ in the eighteenth century. In addition, the association of pre-modern societies with ‘traditional’ modes of communication in social psychology places implicit limits on areas that may be studied through the lens of social representation theory. This article analyses the way in which knowledge circulated in late medieval society, noting initially the plural nature of representations of events and marginal groups, and the myriad channels through which beliefs were consolidated. In later medieval England perceptions of the past depended on collective and group memory, with customary rights and local histories forged through ‘common knowledge’, hearsay and the opinions of ‘trustworthy men’ of the village. The final section of this commentary provides an analysis of testimony from the late medieval church courts, in which witnesses articulated gender ideologies that reflected perceptions drawn from everyday life. Social representations of women were thus deployed in ecclesiastical suits, on the one hand supporting evidence of female witnesses and on the other justifying misogynistic stereotypes of women’s behaviour.

Item Type: Article
Divisions: School of Writing, Publishing and the Humanities
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Date Deposited: 28 Jan 2013 11:45
Last Modified: 15 Aug 2021 09:33
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