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Professor Kathy Krause Awarded NEH Fellowship

Dr. Kathy Krause, professor of French in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, has won a year-long National Endowment for the Humanities grant that will allow her to complete her research and write a book on “The Role of Noblewomen in Literary Production in Northern France during the 13th Century.”  This is not the first time her research has earned national-level recognition.  In 2008, Dr. Krause explored the subject as a Fulbright scholar in northern France and Belgium.

Her interest in this topic was piqued as she read a number of French literary works from the 13th century.  Not only were women major characters, but in many cases, they held substantial lands.  Dr. Krause explains, “A remarkable number of female protagonists and other major female characters are heiresses.  In many cases, that is what starts their troubles, and thus the story itself.  These were works of fiction, but they reflected the reality of the time.  As I researched, I found that during this period almost all the major domains in northern France were inherited by women.  In most of western Europe–with notable regional variations–women inherited in the absence of a brother.  If there were no male children, daughters could, and did, inherit.”  In later centuries, the historical record was re-interpreted to conform to a male-dominated social structure.  For example, in the 19th century, men couldn’t imagine women as heiresses, so they wrote women out of the stories.

Dr. Krause, who joined the UMKC faculty in 1995, said the NEH Fellowship will not only benefit scholarship in the field of medieval literature, but also her students.  “The work I’ve done with manuscripts has already enhanced my teaching, helping me to give students a better understanding of what literary production was like in the Middle Ages — as well as what real life was like.”