1This project began as my doctoral dissertation and grew from there into the present book. Along the way it was nurtured by numerous institutions and people.

2This work is based on extensive research in European archives, libraries, and museums. I would particularly like to thank the staffs of the following institutions for their assistance. In Germany: the Badische Landesbibliothek, Karlsruhe (manuscript and microfilm collections); the General Landesarchiv, Karlsruhe; the Württembergische Landesbibliothek, Stuttgart (manuscript collection and permission to take photographs); the Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg (for their well-lit library and their permission to photograph as well); the Universitätsbibliothek, Freiburg (manuscript collection); and the Stadtarchiv, Freiburg (for their archives and library). In Switzerland: the Zentralbibliothek, Zurich (manuscript collection); and the Historisches Museum, Basel. In France: the Bibliothèque de la Ville, Colmar (for their manuscripts, permission to photograph, and their tolerance of my torturous French). I would also like to thank the staff at the Hill Monastic Manuscript Library, where I spent a very cold January in 1999. Their Heckman Research Stipend allowed me to use that collection.

3My research has fortunately been funded by several grants and fellowships. Early on there was a Frances Mary Hazen Fellowship (1995–1996) and a Joseph F. Skinner Fellowship in History (1996–1997), both from my alma mater Mount Holyoke College. A DAAD Fellowship to Freiburg, Germany (1996–1998) and a T. Anne Cleary International Research Fellowship from the University of Iowa (1997–1998) allowed me to pursue research in Europe. A Seashore Dissertation Year Fellowship from the Graduate College of the University of Iowa allowed me to complete the writing of the dissertation. The Lisa Lee / Marc Ewing Postdoctoral Fellowship in Women's Studies and German Studies (unfortunately now defunct) at Duke University in 2001/2002 allowed me to begin making the changes required to transform this work into a monograph. And finally this project entered its final stages in 2004 when I was awarded the Gutenberg-e Dissertation Prize for 2003 from the American Historical Association and Columbia University Press, supported by an Andrew W. Mellon Grant. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity that the Prize gave me to publish my work.

4The early career of many historians is often itinerant before finding a permanent position—my case is no different. For their support of my teaching career and interest in my research, I would like to thank the History Departments of Kutztown University, Wabash College, Wright State University, and the University of Arizona. Having finally settled into a position, I would like to thank my colleagues at Wartburg College for their support and encouragement, and my students for their tolerance as sometimes the book took precedence over my reading of their own writing. And then there is the wonderful staff of the Wartburg College Information Technology Services who scanned all of the images for this book.

5Many individual people deserve thanks for their help, comments, suggestions, and questions about my work, and their willingness to listen to me talk about "my nuns." At the University of Iowa, I owe a great debt of gratitude to my advisor, Constance Berman, for encouragement, the imposition of deadlines, letters of support, bibliography, advice on photographing manuscripts and architecture, good discussions and ideas, and editing. Glenn Ehrstine checked my Middle High German translations and William Duba helped with the Latin (in all cases any mistakes are most certainly my own). Katherine Tachau taught me Latin paleography, wrote letters of support, and gave general encouragement. Ann Roberts made sure I had a good background in art history. Ellen Millender and Claire Sponsler, along with Constance Berman, Katherine Tachau, Ann Roberts, and Glenn Ehrstine served as my dissertation committee. Their comments and suggestions greatly improved the revision of this text.

6I want to thank the attendees of my conference presentations at the International Medieval Congress in Leeds, England, and at Kalamazoo for their insightful questions, as well as those who attended the Liegè conference on Holy Women in December 1996. In Germany, I would like to thank the following: the members of the Landesgeschichte Colloquium at Albert-Lüdwig-Universität (1997 and 1998) for their inclusion of an American scholar into their group; Thomas Zotz for serving as my advisor while I was a DAAD-Stipendiatin in Freiburg; Helmut and Frauke Raabe for their hospitality; Eva-Marie Butz for being a wonderful guide into the intricacies of German universities, and for going to the movies with me; and Claudia Agne née Raabe for being the perfect roommate, letting me use her medieval books, giving me tours of medieval cities, introducing me to Germany and encouraging me to stay, and being a wonderful friend and Katzenmutti to Leonardo, Bianca, and Xenia (Maus), who provided stress-relief.

7In addition to those named above, the following people provided feedback on this project in its various stages: Michelle Armstrong-Partida, Nancy Bishop, Virginia Blanton-Whetsell, Rachel Bohlman, Kurt Boughan (who also helped with some Latin), Karen Christianson, Patrick Conyers, Janice Faris, Sarah Farmer, Andrea Gayoso, James Giblin, Kate Greenspan, Sarah Hanley, Lisa Harkey, Henry Horwitz, Erin Jordan, Kathleen Kamerick, Susan Karant-Nunn, Linda Kerber, Sara Kimble, Mary Kovel (who helped me come up with the title), Heather Martin, Linda Mitchell, Christine Owens, Michelle Rhoades, Sharon Rorbakken, Malcolm Rohrbough, Helene Scheck, Jane Schulenberg, and Nancy Turner. Robert Townsend and Elisabeth Fairhead of the American Historical Association and Kate Wittenberg, Nathaniel Herz, copy editor Julia Haslett, and the staff at EPIC were extremely helpful as this project reached its close.

8I am indebted to my family for their support. My sister Kirsten patiently listened to me talk about medieval history, while my aunt Susan read some of my conference papers. I am especially grateful to my father. He accompanied me to obscure monastic ruins in the German countryside, drove me to see and photograph St. Katharinenthal in Switzerland and Unterlinden in France, was generally a good sport about being dragged into every pre-Reformation church we came across, and waited patiently outside the history museums into which I would disappear for long periods of time to photograph all sorts of things. Thank you.

9I dedicate this work to the memory of my mother who saw the beginning of my love for all things medieval, but never had a chance to see that interest bear fruit.