Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Department of History


John J. Butt

Gabrielle M. Lanier

Emily M. Westkaemper


This thesis examines the distinction created between men and women in regards to their use of power in England through the Medieval (476-1492) and the Victorian periods (1837-1901). While women have displayed power through the ages, the nature of that power has traditionally been behind the scenes and relegated to the domestic sphere. As a result conceptions of femininity and masculinity confined women to a role not compatible with modern ideas of power and leadership. Present-day individuals are indoctrinated into this gender discourse through characterization of women in literature and gendered laws, which have been passed down since the Middle Ages. Due to England’s status as an imperial power in the Victorian era, their conceptions of gender identity have continued to influence the entire western world and beyond into the present day.



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