Scholarship on The Book of Margery Kempe (ca. 1430) tends to understand Kempe (1373-1440) and her ‘madness’ via the same social and psychological hermeneutics with which Kempe’s contemporaries circumscribe her: disordered, deviant, Other. Such oppositional hermeneutics (using the Other to define the One) presuppose a stable, universal self – an impossible self, as argued by politeness theorists, linguists, philosophers, etc. who see the self as abstract, constructed, and mediated. This paper unpacks the linguistic relationship between self-conception, epistemic process, and the psychophysical paradigm, to argue that Kempe’s cataphatic narration exploits her contemporaries’ epistemic fallacy to redefine herself as mystic not mad, One not Other.
In the Passion Plays from the late medieval N-Town Cycle, the trial of Jesus is presented in the context of a contemporary medieval courtroom, where Jesus is accused by Annas and Caiaphas and judged by Pontius Pilate. However, while the accusers through legal abuses attempt to ensure Jesus’s demise, Pilate does not see grounds for conviction. He stands alone in opposition to accusers’ practices and remains true to his judicial duties, eventually becoming a target for their attacks. The subject of this paper is the legal and social significance of Pilate’s ‘otherness’ in the Passion Plays as perceived by the medieval audience.