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Reviews of Between Pit and Pedestal: Women in the Middle Ages

“The renowned medievalist Duby gives us a rambling assortment of essays, lectures, and musings clearly intended for his fellow scholars. While some pieces deal with love, family structure, clerical regulation of marriage, and attitudes toward women, as the title suggests, other sections of this disjointed work treat widely disparate topics: the Renaissance of the 12th century, the ubiquity of heresy, trends in historical research, and problems implicit in the crafting of cultural history. While Duby raises methodological issues of interest to fellow historians, this book should have little if any value to students and general readers. By sharp contrast, Echols and Williams, both scholars and editors, present a work of great benefit to those groups. A fascinating and highly readable survey of the whole period from 1000 to 1500, it synthesizes a wide range of current scholarship on an amazingly rich range of topics: beauty and fashion; parenting and childhood; work roles in both city and country; and women’s place in medicine, art, and religious life — to name just a few. Students will also be aided by the glossary, extensive bibliography, and useful appendixes. Though the research here is entirely derivative, unlike Duby’s, general readers will be intrigued by the chapters on witchcraft, medieval amusement, and sexual behavior, especially regarding the medieval attitudes toward homosexuality. Recommended for public and undergraduate collections.”
— Library Journal

” . . . A must read. . . . Intriguing, compelling, and incisive, it provides a foundation for theories of Western womanhood to be built on.”
— Small Press Magazine