Helene Scheck

Associate Professor

Undergraduate Director
Director, Medieval Renaissance Studies Programs

Affiliated with the Department of Women’s Studies and the Medieval and Renaissance Studies Program.

Ph.D., Binghamton University (SUNY)

Medieval and Early Modern literatures and cultures; Old English literature and language; early English drama; gender studies; performance and performativity; women's intellectual culture.

Humanities 322



Faculty Research Award Program, April 2006, to support research in Germany
on women's intellectual culture, 750-1050 C.E.

Initiatives for Women, May 2003

Distinguished Dissertation, Department of English, Binghamton University

Distinguished Dissertation, Binghamton University, April 2001

Select Publications

"Seductive Voices: Rethinking Female Subjectivities in The Wife's Lament and Wulf and Eadwacer." Literature Compass 5.2 (February 2008), 220-27.

Intertexts: Studies in Anglo-Saxon Literature and Culture Presented to Paul E. Szarmach, brings together a range of traditionally isolated or disparate texts in a synergistically productive manner. In keeping with Paul Szarmach's scholarly achivements, the twenty-six essays in this volume cross textual boundaries in various ways, from tracing and questioning source texts to rethinking and reframing traditional perceptions of Anglo-Saxon literature and culture, making connections between and among literary, historical, and visual texts from various perspectives, including historical, art historical, philological, codicological, and literary. The collection offers, therefore, a significant contribution to the field of Anglo-Saxon studies, even as it provides a fitting tribute to this renowned scholar (forthcoming, Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies, May 2008).

Reform and Resistance: Formations of Female Subjectivity in Early Medieval Ecclesiastical Culture

Reform and Resistance: Formations of Female Subjectivity in Early Medieval Ecclesiastical Culture by Helene Scheck The early medieval period is rich with diversity and fragmentation of identities-religious, social, political, and personal. Although nostalgic impulses, then and now, yield impressions of monolithic cultures unified by one overarching Christian institution, scholars are increasingly exposing the ruptures in such reifications of hegemonic
fantasies. In the case of Anglo-Saxon England, Jeffrey Jerome Cohen has argued that the cultural landscape had always been characterized by various cultural configurations, competing ideologies, and therefore multiple modes of identity formation. The same certainly can be said of early medieval European culture more generally, where pre-Christian tribal units evolved into Christian kingdoms organized under one imperial regime in a violent process of conquest and appropriation, forgetting, misremembering, and, finally, naturalizing new cultural norms for posterity. The fragmentary nature of early medieval ecclesiastical culture thus was masked by the growing trend towards centralization of secular and ecclesiastical power. Finding these moments to be most charged with conflict in relation to female subject possibilities, I focus on the dynamics of ecclesiastical reform and the resistance produced by such reform measures in order to examine what those tensions reveal about female autonomy. My inquiry, therefore, extends beyond one specific region or historical moment through two centuries and three diverse Germanic regions, all grappling with distinct stages of conversion and reform-different stages of cultural amalgamation out of which various possibilities for female subject formation emerge. (forthcoming, SUNY Press, July 2008)

In the Works

Charlemagne’s Sister: Women’s Intellectual Culture in Northern Europe, 800-1000. This project focuses specifically on women’s participation in the typically male-dominated sphere of intellectual culture in the Carolingian and Ottonian dynasties.

Select Presentations

"Alcuin and the Development of Women's Intellectual Culture on the Continent," to be presented at the upcoming meeting of the International Society of Anglo-Saxonists at Munich, August 2005.

"Rereading Beauty: Hrotsvit of Gandersheim against Commodification of the Female Body," to be presented at the International Congress on Medieval Studies, May 2005.

"Wisdom, Knowledge, and Empire in the Work of Hrotsvit of Gandersheim," Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Binghamton University (SUNY) Interdisciplinary Conference, October 2004.

"Genesis B and the Myth of Female Subjectivity," MLA, New Orleans, 2001. "Imaging Desire: Cocteau and Beyond," International Congress on Medieval Studies, May 2000.

"Discourses in Dialogue II: [Judith] Butler and Medieval Studies," International Congress on Medieval Studies, 1996.