Publication Details

D'Arcens, L, '"She ensample was by good techynge": Hermiene Ulrich and Chaucer Under Capricorn', Early Women Scholars and the History of Reading Chaucer, special issue of Philologie Im Netz, Beiheft, Supp 4/2009, 21-40.


Hermiene Frederica Ulrich (later Parnell) is a significant but now largely forgotten figure in early Australian academic history, who is especially notable for her brief but vital contribution to the tradition of early female readership of Chaucer in Australia. Despite her exclusion from university teaching after a promising and vital early career, Ulrich/Parnell continued to figure in her contribution as a public medievalist. This essay argues that Ulrich/Parnell's contribution as an early woman reader of Chaucer has been overlooked because of three-fold feminization in which her gender, teaching career, and colonial status have all rendered her the antithesis of the masculinist ideal of intellectual 'eminence' within medieval studies. It argues in particular that the exclusively pedagogic nature of her career is strongly reflective of early Australian medieval studies, and points to the vital role in the colonial university of teaching and 'amateur' scholarship-practices which, because of their association with feminine dilettantism, have been occluded in the history of medieval studies. Finally the essay goes on to argue for the efficacy of developing a diasporic rather than Eurocentric or Transatlantic model of the discipline's development. This kind of model will enable us to reassess our criteria of scholarly value in such a way that we are able to acknowledge contributions that have hitherto been marginalized – and marginalized precisely because they have been feminized – within historical accounts of the discipline's development.

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