IMC 2013: Sessions

Session 208: Pious Passion and Its Ideologies in Middle English Literature

Monday 1 July 2013, 14.15-15.45

Moderator/Chair:James Knowles, Department of English, North Carolina State University
Paper 208-aJulian of Norwich's Heavenly Ethics
(Language: English)
Margaret Healy-Varley, Department of English, Providence College, Rhode Island
Index terms: Language and Literature - Middle English, Lay Piety, Philosophy, Theology
Paper 208-b'My dere moder, lullay': Middle English Nativity Lullabies and Their Theology
(Language: English)
Alice Degan, Independent Scholar, Toronto
Index terms: Language and Literature - Middle English, Lay Piety, Theology

Paper -a:
In the Revelation of Love, Julian’s claim that ‘notwithstonding all oure feling, wo or wele, God will we understond and beleve that we be more verely in heven than in erth’ opens her to the critique that her theology offers only a disengaged ‘beholding’ of sin and its costs. Her gestures towards ineffability can provoke frustration; that frustration suggests an argument for the inadequacy of the revelation itself as the grounds of a theology that is coherent and correct. This paper will suggest how a speculative theology motivated by eschatology can be intellectually adequate to the problem of sin.

Paper -b:
Middle English lullabies on Christ’s Nativity display sharply differing emotional tones, either inviting the listener to share in Mary’s joy at the divine birth, or foreshadowing Christ’s suffering by emphasizing the poverty of his infancy. One of the longest and best known in fact manages to combine both tones. Each of these approaches participates in the affective tendency of later medieval devotional poetry, and each provides opportunities for the exploration of paradox. This paper will examine these two approaches, connecting them to contemporary theology and to other depictions of the Nativity.