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IMC 2009: Sessions

Session 1316: Magic and Divination

Wednesday 15 July 2009, 16.30-18.00

Moderator/Chair:Iona McCleery, Institute for Medieval Studies / School of History, University of Leeds
Paper 1316-aLiterary Representations of Saints and Witches, 1200-1500
(Language: English)
Grace Windsor, National University of Ireland, Galway
Index terms: Ecclesiastical History, Hagiography, Language and Literature - Middle English, Sexuality
Paper 1316-bThe femina malefica and Alanus de Insulis
(Language: English)
Loredana de Falco, Dipartimento di Filologia Classica, Università degli Studi di Napoli - Federico II
Index terms: Historiography - Medieval, Language and Literature - Latin

From Augustine to the end of the Middle Ages with the emergence of witchcraft as a focus in the logic of persecution, magic and divination play a central role in discourses about orthodoxy, knowledge, and the relation between the physical and supernatural world. The papers in this session explore key themes in representation and debate from a range of geographical and historical contexts.

Paper -a:
The purpose of this research paper is to examine the interconnections between the representations of saints and witches in medieval literature of the 15th century. Although the phenomena of the witch-hunt did not fully emerge until the 16th century, arguably, medieval concepts of sanctity and sainthood influenced popular constructions of the witch.

The paper will begin with an outline of the role of spiritual discernment to the acceptance or vilification of medieval holy women and its' contribution to the gradual criminalization of female piety. Figures such as Catherine of Siena, Margery Kempe and Joan of Arc will be considered. The paper will demonstrate that the decline of female piety in the 15th century was influenced by and in turn influenced the image of the witch.

Paper -b:
In the commentary of Alanus de Insulis of the 12th century on the Prophetia Merlini of Galfredus Monumetensis, there are several passages in which he discusses episodes of magic. A careful analysis of the text on episodes concerning feminae maleficae particularly, prompts to recognize Alanus as an interpreter of the magic as diaboli ludibrium and a supporter of the witch-hunt.