Kate Staples, Ph.D.
- Medieval Europe
- Women’s, Gender, Sexuality, and Family History
- British History
- Western Civilization
- World History
- Ph.D., University of Minnesota, 2006
- M.A., University of Minnesota, 2003
- B.A., University of Minnesota, Morris, 2000
Dr. Staples is interested in the gender, social, and cultural history of medieval Europe, especially of urban spaces. In her book, Daughters of London: Inheriting Opportunity in the Late Middle Ages (Brill, 2011), she examines the opportunities that daughters inherited from their parents in order to participate in a world that often consigned them to passive roles. Her analysis of daughters’ inheritances in London, in concert with that of their brothers, challenges our notions of women’s property ownership in the late Middle Ages. Daughters who inherited real estate were not rare in late medieval London, nor was it uncommon for these daughters to invest their property in a variety of ways. These merchants’ and artisans’ daughters may have run up against enduring patriarchal structures and norms, but they negotiated these limitations (by evading, co-opting, and contesting), as did many women before and after. Further, by considering women as daughters we are able to view women’s experience in the past with a broader lens.
Questions raised in the book have brought her to her current project that explores women and labor in urban spaces in Northern Europe. Tentatively titled “Used Goods: The Secondhand Trade and the Significance of Grey Markets in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries,” this project investigates the occupation of fripperers and upholders, the secondhand clothes and goods dealers of the late Middle Ages. Rather than relegated to the margins of the medieval economy, the secondhand market was multifaceted, serving many. It provided goods in demand in the late Middle Ages when the cost and power of clothing and goods could be quite high, and ready cash was relatively low. With this topic, she seeks to understand the cultural and economic standing of these traders, the material culture surrounding their product, the market spaces in which they worked, and the competitive and cooperative networks within which they operated. In all of these lines of inquiry, she is attentive to the way that gender norms shaped the trade and how intersectionality can help us understand their experiences, and those of their customers.
- HIST 101: Western Civilization to 1600
- HIST 179: World History to 1500
- HIST 203: Medieval Europe
- HIST 293a: Britain to 1603
- HIST 346: Women, Gender, and Kinship in Premodern Europe
- HIST 424: Britain 1455-1603: Rebellions and Reformations
- HIST 484: Introduction to Historical Methods (capstone)
- HIST 493: Medieval Europe and the World
- HIST 493: Living and Dying in Medieval Europe
- HIST 693: Medieval and Early Modern England
- HIST 700: Historiography
- HIST 701: Readings in Medieval History
- HIST 702: Seminar in Medieval History
Daughters of London: Inheriting Opportunity in Late Medieval London. Brill Academic Publishers, 2011.
Journal Articles and Entries:
“The Significance of the Secondhand Trade in Europe, 1200-1600,” History Compass, Vol. 13, Issue 6 (June 2015): 297-309.
“Fripperers” and “Botchers”, Encyclopedia of Medieval Dress and Textiles (Brill Academic Publishing, 2012).
“Fripperers and the Used Clothing Trade in Late Medieval London,” Medieval Clothing and Textiles, Vol. 6 (May 2010): 151-171.
“Identifying Women Proprietors in Wills from Fifteenth-Century London,” in “The Rise of the Mercantile Economy and Early Modern Women,” a forum within Early Modern Women: An Interdisciplinary Journal, Vol. III, September 30, 2008.
“Christina’s Tempting: Sexual Desire and Women’s Sanctity,” in Christina of Markyate: A Twelfth-Century Holy Woman, ed. Samuel Fanous and Henrietta Leyser_ (New York: Routledge, 2004), 184-196.
Grants and Awards
- West Virginia University Foundation Outstanding Teaching Award, 2012
- Eberly College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Teacher Award, 2012
- West Virginia Humanities Council Fellowship
- Bernadotte E. Schmitt Grant from the American Historical Association
- West Virginia University Senate Grant