Session 1512: Narrating Conversion to Christianity
Thursday 6 July 2017, 09.00-10.30
|Moderator/Chair:||Anne-Marie Helvétius, firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Paper 1512-a||Convert Me Wholly: Introspective Piety and Penance as Transformation from Rejected Other into Reformed and Desired Self|
Index terms: Lay Piety, Mentalities, Religious Life
|Paper 1512-b||From Riches to Rags: Conversion Narratives and Memoria in The Book of Margery Kempe and the Sisterbook of Diepenveen|
Index terms: Language and Literature - Comparative, Language and Literature - Dutch, Language and Literature - Middle English, Religious Life
Like the saints’ lives these vitae evoke, these texts encourage the reader to remember both the works themselves and the women. The Diepenveen Sisterbook was intended to prompt the Devotio Moderna sisters to ‘imitate the virtues and example’ of their predecessors. Similarly, one of the Book‘s scribes stresses in the proem that Margery’s life is ‘ower exampyl and instruccyon’. In this paper, I therefore read these conversion scenes – in their original vernaculars – through the lens of memoria, the craft and art of memory. Tracing how these moments appropriate familiar hagiographic loci, I examine how these texts seek to imprint these events indelibly on the readers’ mind. The mnemonic impressions thus promoted I bring into dialogue with each text’s understanding of sainthood, revealing different (auto)-hagiographic strategies and different conceptions of the secular and the deceased Other. Ultimately, I illuminate how both works – by means of these accounts of spiritual transformation – create transcendent memorial communities: the Book makes Margery join the ranks of her favorite saints, while the Sisterbook unites the implied reader with the saintly sisters gone before her, fashionistas once more in the afterlife.