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"I Made a New Man in My Mind": Gender and the Making of the University of Paris, c. 1100-1300


Universities were among the most consequential institutions of the later middle ages, but in their formative years their success was threatened by the vehement critiques of some of the most powerful voices in Europe. How did the earliest university masters and administrators advocate for the necessity of these nascent institutions? This dissertation argues that gendered claims played a critical role in shaping the early institutional identity of the University of Paris, an institution which would become the prototype for many of Europe’s first universities. University authorities advocated for the necessity of this new kind of institution by insisting that the young men under their instruction could be transformed from callow adolescents into men capable of undertaking the reforming and pastoral missions of the Church. In describing the ideals of these “new men” of the university, university proponents evoked classical and late-antique ideals of masculinity which incorporated virtue, restraint, and martyrdom. Historians have thus far argued that the emerging Parisian schools of the twelfth century, institutions from which the university would emerge in the early thirteenth century, shifted their interest away from training students in morals (mores) in favor of a nearly all-encompassing training in dialectic and litterae (letters). But by shifting attention to non-curricular evidence, such as behavioral statutes, wills, sermons, and architecture, this dissertation offers a revision of the current historiography of premodern universities by arguing that from its inception the University of Paris was designed to not only prepare young men intellectually for their ecclesiastical work, but also to prepare them for this work spiritually and morally. This dissertation considers various modes of spiritual and moral formation, including the founding of the earliest residential colleges and the central role of university preaching, in support of the university’s mission to cultivate “new men.” It also argues that the role of women in the nascent University of Paris has been thus far underappreciated. Women were in many ways excluded and maligned by the university, but they also supported the university enterprise as students’ mothers and as financial donors. Women supported the university, I argue, because of the kind of men the university claimed to cultivate—this kind of man was considered essential to the stability of Christian society.
Thesis (Ph. D.)--Brown University, 2019

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Carroll, Charles Scott, "'I Made a New Man in My Mind': Gender and the Making of the University of Paris, c. 1100-1300" (2019). History Theses and Dissertations. Brown Digital Repository. Brown University Library.