Authority and the Female Body in the Writings of Julian of by Liz Herbert McAvoy

By Liz Herbert McAvoy

The writings of Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe exhibit an expertise of conventional and modern attitudes in the direction of ladies, particularly medieval attitudes in the direction of the feminine physique. This examine examines the level to which they utilize such attitudes of their writing, and investigates the significance of the feminine physique as a way of explaining their mystical stories and the perception received from them; in either writers, the feminine physique is valuable to their writing, resulting in a feminised language by which they in attaining authority and create an area within which they are often heard, quite within the context in their spiritual and mystical reviews. the 3 archetypal representations of girl within the heart a long time, as mom, as whore and as 'wise woman', are all in actual fact found in the writings of Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe; in studying the ways that either writers utilize those lady different types, McAvoy establishes the level in their luck in resolving the stress among society's expectancies of them and their very own lived reports as ladies and writers. LIZ HERBERT MCAVOY is Lecturer in Medieval Language and Literature, collage of Leicester.

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Additional info for Authority and the Female Body in the Writings of Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe (Studies in Medieval Mysticism)

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And also sche roof hir skyn on hir body ahen hir hert wyth hir nayles spetowsly, for sche had noon oþer instrumentys, & wers sche wold a don saf sche was bowndyn & kept wyth strength boþe day & nyght þat sche mygth not haue hir wylle. (7–8) The application of twentieth-century medical terminology to explain away Margery’s suffering here is clearly too simplistic and anachronistic. Margery’s suffering is not merely a result of an unfortunate post-partum pathology, as many critics would have it. It is, in fact, brought about also by the failure of the doubly privileged male and priestly authority of the confessor with his critical ‘vndyrnemyn’ and ‘scharp repreuyng’ (7) of her for her sin.

Margery Kempe’s Children as Structural Cohesion In spite of the rarity of specific allusion to Margery’s domestic roles as wife and mother in her text, it can be of no small importance that the only extended allusions to individual children occupy parallel places of privilege in the Book’s narrative structure. The initial chapter of both Book 1 and Book 2 is characterised by the representation of a child, both accounts then assuming pivotal positions in the narrative. 20 19 20 This, of course, is the line of argument pursued by Staley in Dissenting Fictions.

201–17; Kathy Lavezzo, ‘Sobs and Sighs between Women: The Homoerotics of Compassion’, in Louise Fradenburg and Carla Freccero (eds), Premodern Sexualities (New York and London, 1996), pp. ), Community, Gender and Identity: English Writing 1360–1430 (London, 1988), pp. 34–57; Clarissa Atkinson, Mystic and Pilgrim: The Book and World of Margery Kempe (New York, 1983); Diane Watt, Secretaries of God: Women Prophets in Late Medieval and Early Modern England (Cambridge, 1997); Rosalynn Voaden, God’s Words, Women’s Voices: The Discernment of Spirits in the Writing of Late-Medieval Women Visionaries (York, 1999); Sarah Salih, Versions of Virginity in Late Medieval England (Cambridge, 2001).

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