I think the crux of our disagreement can be found about midway through her post, when she writes:
There are a number of reasons I consider women writers of the medieval period necessary to any study of the literature, regardless of their ability to write "beautifully."
Here I see a set of assumptions that practically demand HeoCwaeth and I disagree. She sees the inclusion of medieval women writers into the Canon as the central issue, whereas I see the inclusion of works by said writers into the Canon as the central issue.
In shorthand, we often refer to works by their author's names, so we might say generally "Shakespeare" is in the Canon, though, in fact, that's simply our own (meaning mine too) sloppy usage. What we mean is Hamlet, King Lear, etc are in the Canon. I like Coriolanus a lot (it is one of my favorite Shakespeare plays), it would be a real stretch to say that Coriolanus is in the Canon.
Why make the distinction between the author and the work? Several reasons, I think. One reason is that the identity politics in play in the statement "what was let in the canon was almost always literature of the men, by the men, and for the men" seems to me to be the same old Intentional Fallacy, played out in the cultural Marxist milieu. Now, the study of authorial intention has a long and noble tradition, and so if you hold that meaning and value are held in the author, rather than the work, I'm just going to have to disagree with you.
Another reason, I think, is the concerns of literature rather than the concerns of history. Since I don't know HeoCwaeth, I'm not certain whether she is on the literary side of the historical side (or one of the children of the marriage of the two in historicism), but when she writes "The most important is my desire for as much information as I can get from the age, and differing voices may give me that information," I hear the concerns of a historian, not a literary scholar. Bede's account of the poet Caedmon makes clear that all the others there who also sang and composed songs. Now, while I would be interested from a scholarly perspective to see some of their compositions, I recognize that their work was ignored because it was not of the same quality as Caedmon's hymn. My job is not to present a fair cross section of medieval writing ... my job is to present a fair cross section of GOOD medieval writing. Perhaps others will disagree, but I recognize my own mortality and feel cheated when I have to read something that I don't find very good. When HeoCwaeth "was, at first, a little astonished that any mention of medieval women writers (pro or con) would come up in a post about a medieval woman warrior," I think we see a fundamental difference in our assumptions. Someone says "medieval women" and I immediately think of medieval women writers, since I'm a lit guy. To a historian, that must seem a non sequitur, but to lit folks, it should seem the natural association.
HeoCwaeth also raises some points about how we determine what is "beautiful" writing. That's not just a whole other can of worms -- that's a huge barrel of worms too large to include in this already over-sized post. If any non-academic readers want to know more about that issue, we call the study of beauty "aesthetics." Academic readers familiar with issues in aesthetics will understand why I'm skipping over this important issue.
The last important issue she raises is of one of universality. I've got to confess, after re-reading that section several times I'm still not clear on what side of the fence she lands, so my apologies in advance if I misrepresent her position.
If I understand her position, she seems to suggest that works can never be universal, only particular, and so we hit on as many particulars as possible to speak to as many students as possible.
I disagree. A LOT. Literature is always set in the particular, but the particular should give access to the universal. I've never been a god, nor am I ever likely to be unless my theology is really out of whack, but I still tap into the beauty of the Popol Vuh. I've never been a Japanese courtier, but The Pillowbook of Sei Shonagon still makes me laugh out loud at socially unacceptable moments. I've never been an exile, but Deor and The Wanderer both make me want to weep with their nearly-tangible lonliness. In other words, I've never been a woman, a very old man, a prince, a god, a barnyard animal, or an anthropomorphic rood, but I've experienced joy, disappointment, fear, desire, hatred, love, etc. If I believed that my students or I were more likely to experience those things when they were written by people who fall into arbitrarily-chosen demographic categories similar to them, I wouldn't be a student of medieval literature -- I'd be a student of contemporary American literature written by fat, bald guys.
Of course, there are other poor reasons works get canonized: Jean de Meun's tiresome continuation of the Romance of the Rose only gets pulled along behind the star of The Book of the City of Ladies. Alain de Lille's Plaint of Nature was once canonized only because of its connection to Chaucer, and now has been de-canonized for its homophobia, both rather silly reasons to include/remove it. I doubt we'd much read Cleanness and Patience if they weren't in the Pearl manuscript.
One last note on the anecdote from HeoCwaeth's undergraduate years: It is a shame that she was so poorly served by that professor, though given the quality of her thinking, he doesn't appear to have done much damage. She relates the story this way:
I'll never forget the expression on his face when I feigned epic upset at having to eliminate all those volumes of battle poetry produced at a time when only men wrote and fought from my reading list. All the political writing that centered on the upper classes had to go, too. My God, I said, even The Sorrows of Young Werther is no good because it is all about a man in love, women will never be men in love. The argument ended there.
If the professor could not claim that the literature on his syllabus did "speak to the human experience in its entirity," then he should never have included it. Literature written by men (or, more commonly in the medieval setting, anonymous literature) should be ignored if only the men "get it." I don't have time in my mortal life to read mediocre works by men, women, or anonymous authors -- and students should not have their time wasted by professors who assemble syllabi without justification. I had a similar experience in undergrad (though in that case it was a medieval lit prof who was unable to justify the study of non-contemporary lit when confronted by a frustrated student), and it still makes me angry that he was wasting our time without thinking it through.
By the way, I've never been forced to teach Salinger, and as she has, HeoCwaeth and her students have my sympathy. *shudder*
[Updated to fix a spelling error. There are probably more, but I'm too lazy to fix 'em all]