IMC 2009: Sessions

Session 722: The Devotional Self, I

Tuesday 14 July 2009, 14.15-15.45

Sponsor:University of Wales Press, Religion and Culture in the Middle Ages Series
Organiser:Diane Watt, Department of English Literature & Creative Writing, Aberystwyth University
Moderator/Chair:Diane Watt, Department of English Literature & Creative Writing, Aberystwyth University
Paper 722-aThe Making of the Self through Devotional Words and Images
(Language: English)
Denis Renevey, Faculté des lettres, Université de Lausanne
Index terms: Lay Piety, Religious Life
Paper 722-b'The inward kepinge of hymself': Conservative Orthodoxy and the trewe Christian in Middle English Devotional Literature
(Language: English)
Janet Gunning, Department of English / Department of History & Welsh History, Aberystwyth University
Index terms: Lay Piety, Religious Life
Paper 722-cPerception, Place, and Power: The Anonymous Life of St Cuthbert and the Lindisfarne Gospels
(Language: English)
James Antonio Paz, School of English, University of Leeds
Abstract

This session addresses the strategies used by devotional authors to help their audience configure their devotional self. The first paper looks at the impact of a number of traditional devotional images and texts upon the devotional self, considering for instance the close relationship between images and short texts upon the Annunciation and their effect upon the self. Next, the presentation considers textual images and their transfer/ translation and transformation from textual to mental representations. Such a transfer gives us a glimpse on the strategies used by devotional authors to help their audience configure their devotional self. The paper tries to answer whether a model of the devotional self for the late medieval period can be inferred from the different examples offered as part of this paper. The second paper will explore the ways in which orthodox devotional literature, such as the work of Nicholas Love and Walter Hilton, delineate the trewe Christian self. These texts make clear that the trewe Christian is defined not by outward appearance, status or behaviour, but by an internal state of being, which can be achieved through a spiritual programme of moral and emotional reform, fostered and promoted through devotional practices such as devout reading, meditation, and prayer. The paper will argue that understanding affective devotional culture as primarily concerned with processes of spiritual self-reform has implications for the way in which the conservative orthodoxy of writers such as Walter Hilton and Nicholas Love might be understood. It raises questions about the way in which the suppression of Lollardy, and the status of vernacular speculative theology, have often been privileged in scholarly discussion as the yardsticks by which conservative orthodoxy should be assessed, and suggests that orthodox conservatism was at least as concerned with spiritual discipline as it was with the repression of heresy. The third paper, looking at the anonymous Life of St Cuthbert and the Lindisfarne Gospels, asks how issues of perception, place, and power are bound up in the formation of the early Christian self within pre-Viking age Northumbria.