IMC 2018: Sessions

Session 1610: Mysticism and Hagiography

Thursday 5 July 2018, 11.15-12.45

Moderator/Chair:Dávid Falvay, Department of Italian Studies, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest
Paper 1610-aBeing Her Own 'Creature': Memory and The Book of Margery Kempe
(Language: English)
Azime Pekşen Yakar, Department of English Language & Literature, Hacettepe University, Turkey
Index terms: Gender Studies, Hagiography, Language and Literature - Middle English, Religious Life
Paper 1610-bOh God, She's a Woman: Contextualizing Julian of Norwich
(Language: English)
Katharine Beaulieu, Independent Scholar, Ontario
Index terms: Ecclesiastical History, Gender Studies, Language and Literature - Middle English, Women's Studies
Paper 1610-cLiquid Memories
(Language: English)
Sarah Alison Miller, Department of Classics, Duquesne University, Pennsylvania
Index terms: Gender Studies, Hagiography, Language and Literature - Latin

Paper -a:
The Book of Margery Kempe (1430s) narrates Margery’s life story in loosely-knitted episodes yet mainly focusing on her spiritual experiences, sufferings and development. It is actually an autobiography dictated by Margery herself and written by two different scribes after twenty years of her visions including personal conversations with God and Jesus. Memory, thus, with its various types occupies a crucial place in both the production process of the text and the text itself. As Margery, an illiterate woman, recites her experiences after twenty years relying on merely her memory, she may not be able to accurately recollect all memories of the past covering almost twenty-five years or else she may manipulate and reconstruct them for various reasons. In this context, this paper aims to analyse how Margery creates herself an alternative role of a mystic, a religious authority and a pilgrim other than allotted roles of wifehood and motherhood for a medieval woman, through making use of her visions beginning after her first childbirth which becomes a traumatic memory haunting her.

Paper -b:
Julian of Norwich is often either entirely ignored or overly praised. It is important, however, to address her shortcomings along with, as opposed to separate from, her successes as each inform the other. Although her Revelations are rich with impressive theological considerations, her text never received the appropriate amount of enthusiasm often warranted to such thought provoking theological considerations. Therefore, in looking back upon her life and work, it is impossible to view her as the perfect first female English author that modern feminist scholars may want her to be, and instead we are obligated to consider how she was forced to submit to the misogyny of the Catholic Church in a way that negatively impacted her work and undermined her authority as a medieval author, both in and beyond her time.

Paper -c:
This paper examines how fluids associated with the female body (milk, menstrual blood, tears) were designated as material relics in the Middle Ages and how liquid relics may have posed a particular set of memorial requirements because of their material nature. How are body fluids presented as more problematic objects of veneration than relics that were perceived as more stable or solid? Relics have often been presented as hard, preserved in the stable material of metal and glass reliquaries, objects that were intended to be preserved and venerated in order to ‘solidify’ the memory of the sacrifices of saints through the ossified remains of their bodies. Yet the bodies of saints did not necessarily require the collection of hard material (bones, teeth, etc.). Body fluids were collected, shared, and venerated as stable material proof, or memories, of sanctity despite their slippery nature.