- "Das Weib soll nicht gelehrt seyn": Konfessionell geprägte Frauenbilder, Frauenbildung und weibliche Lebensentwürfe von der Reformation bis zum frühen 20. Jahrhundert: Eine Fallanalyse am regionalen Beispiel der Grafschaft Oldenburg und des Niederstifts Münster, seit 1774/1803 Herzogtum Oldenburg by Maria Anna Zumholz
What kind of education would best prepare girls and young women to care for hearth and home, to raise God-fearing and moral children? Do women teachers provide the best instruction for girls and young women? How should girls' education differ from boys' education? In 1808 as part of these debates and discussions, Dr. Friedrich Reinhard Ricklefs, the Protestant director of the Oldenburg Secondary School, argued Das Weib soll nicht gelehrt seyn [No learned women! directly: the woman should not be learned]. Anna Maria Zumbolz takes this phrase as the title of her book, and it also reflects the book's focus on drawing together commentary on girls' and women's education from the Reformation period to the present.
A through-line in her work is the change wrought in the gender order, or in her words the "gender anthropology," as a result of the Reformation. Martin Luther's criticism of celibacy and belief that celibacy was impossible shaped his judgment that all must marry. Within marriage or within families, women were to subordinate themselves to men. Thus, the Reformation closed off the most important path to a life independent of male family control as a member of a women's religious order. In her view, Martin Luther "denied women a choice between different forms of life, the possibility of professional activity." Furthermore, in her argument, Martin Luther "laid the foundation for the ideal of the bürgerlich-patriarchal [End Page 560] marriage" as well as the "negative image of the useless old maid." In these ways, the Reformation, was a "story of loss for women" [Verlustgeschichte für Frauen] (p. 421).
Taking the region of Oldenburger Land as her focus, Zumholz contrasts the Protestant emphasis on preparing women only for motherhood with the Catholic views that often seem to open up other possibilities for women to choose a respectable life outside of the family home. Zumholz finds countless examples of Catholics arguing that women best understand girls, and women make for the best teachers, even the best principals of schools. In this way, the Catholic Church offered women the possibility of real leadership in religious and educational institutions. Zumholz argues persuasively that Catholic institutions allowed for a professional life in the educational and caring professions that was not open to most Protestant women in the early modern period. Buttressing her primary source analysis with the arguments of Relinde Meiwes in 'Arbeiterinnen des Herrn': Katholische Frauenkongregationen im 19. Jahrhundert (2000), Zumholz interprets a range of Oldenburger Land religious orders and congregations as offering opportunities for fulfilling a professional life for women outside of marriage and family. She goes so far as to see early modern orders and congregations like the Ursulines and the Augustiner Chorfrauen "advocating for the interests of women" and "opening the opportunity for women to lead an independent and self-determined [selbstbestimmtes] life" (p. 422).
The first chapter introduces the main themes and contrasts the twentieth-century claims of a "Catholic Bildungs-deficit" with fact that for girls, by the twentieth century, Oldenburger Land instead had a "Protestant Bildungs-deficit." Chapter two focuses on gender, education, and religion in the Reformation period and chapter three focuses on those subjects in early modern Oldenburger Land. Chapter four considers the images of women and women's education, and chapter five discusses the ways that these images shaped women's professional opportunities. A conclusion in chapter six sums up the main points of the book. Throughout the book are photos, maps, images, tables, and primary sources. The...