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IMC 2020: Sessions

Session 1347: Mary's Borders: The Virgin between Heaven and Earth in Literature and Material Culture

Wednesday 8 July 2020, 16.30-18.00

Organiser:Hope Doherty, Department of English Studies Durham University
Moderator/Chair:Catherine Maguire, School of Languages, Linguistics & Film, Queen Mary, University of London
Paper 1347-aFrom Donna to Madonna: Petrarch's Canzone to the Virgin and the Architecture of the Rerum vulgarium fragmenta
(Language: English)
Emma Wall, School of Modern Languages & Cultures Durham University
Index terms: Language and Literature - Italian, Language and Literature - Latin, Philosophy, Religious Life
Paper 1347-bCloaking Mary, Cloaking Haukyn: Skin and 'Marian Medicine' in Piers Plowman
(Language: English)
Hope Doherty, Department of English Studies Durham University
Index terms: Language and Literature - Middle English, Lay Piety, Medicine, Theology
Paper 1347-c'Measures of oure Lady': The Virgin's Girdle and Childbirth in Late Medieval England
(Language: English)
Roisin Donohoe, School of Languages Literature & Cultural Studies, Trinity College Dublin
Index terms: Lay Piety, Medicine, Social History, Women's Studies

The Virgin Mary is a unique figure in medieval theology because of her ability to articulate boundaries between heaven and earth, and this is demonstrable in Marian literature and material culture. In this session, Emma Wall will explore the transition from earthly to heavenly in the Prayer to the Virgin in Petrarch's Rerum vulgarium fragmenta, demonstrating the progression towards the divine through an invocation to the Virgin and the abandonment of the mortal Laura. Hope Doherty will continue this literary analysis by considering the borders of Mary's earthly and divine status through 'Marian medicine' in Piers Plowman, reading Haukyn's coat as boundaries and divisions in the skin. Taking her cue from this discussion of material skin, Roisin Donohoe will examine the parturient woman's use of the Virgin Mary's girdles during childbirth in late medieval England with the aim of showing that these were powerful earthly objects which crossed the borders of ecclesiastical and domestic spheres.