Until recently, the figure of the medieval anchorite and those underlying ideological precepts which framed it have escaped detailed examination, allowing the phenomenon of anchoritic enclosure to remain on the margins of consciousness within the various disciplines which comprise medieval studies. Those studies which have been undertaken to date have made very little allowance for the ways in which notions of gender have shaped its ideologies and practices. This volume therefore brings together for the first time a collection of essays by some of the leading scholars in the fields of gender and anchoritic studies who examine anchoritic enclosure from a variety of different perspectives.In so doing, "Anchorites, Wombs and Tombs" offers some illuminating conclusions on how the phenomenon of anchoritism was affected by and, in turn, actively influenced contemporary notions of gender difference.
Ranging from studies of the influence of desert eremiticism upon a variety of expressions of religious enclosure in England to the sexualized spirituality of the high Middle Ages, and the spilling of anchoritic rhetoric into the laity during the fifteenth-century, these essays demonstrate how discourses of anchoritic enclosure were repeatedly utilized to different ends at different periods throughout the Middle Ages and beyond. In so doing, they unpick those physical and metaphorical implications which anchoritic life presented for its adherents and their contemporaries and trace its shifting manifestations from pre-Conquest times up to the Reformation.
Dr Liz Herbert McAvoy is Senior Lecturer in Gender in English Studies at Swansea University. Mari Hughes-Edwards is Senior Lecturer in English at Edge Hill University.
Foreword: Anneke B. Mulder-Bakker; Introduction: Liz Herbert McAvoy and Mari Hughes-Edwards; Inclusive Language: Some Reflections on Wombs and Tombs - Alexandra Barratt; Guthlac A and Guthlac B Changing Metaphors for a Dying Hermit - Santha Bhattacharji; Representations of the Anchoritic Life in Goscelin of St-Bertin's Liber Confortatorius - Rebecca Hayward; Male and Female Cistercians and their Gendered Experiences of the Margins, the Wilderness and the Periphery - Elizabeth Freeman; The White Friars' Return to Carmel - Johan Bergstom-Allen; "Crepe into that blessed syde" Enclosure Imagery in Aelred of Rievaulx's De Institutione Inclusarum and its Middle English Redaction - Kristen McQuinn; Gladly Alone: Isolation and Exile in English Mystical Experience - Susannah Chewning; Anchoritic Elements of Holkham Misc. 41 - Catherine Innes-Parker; "I was confused and cried": The Carthusian Dionysius of Ryckel (c. 1402/03-1471), Masculinity and Late Medieval Mysticism - Ulrike Wiethaus; "... wrapt as if to the third heaven" Gender and Contemplative Experience in Late-Medieval Anchoritic Guidance Writing - Mari Hughes-Edwards; In Praise of Whips: Mortification of the Flesh in Ancrene Wisse - Bob Hasenfratz; Beyond the Tomb: Ancrene Wisse and Lay Piety - Cate Gunn; Voice beyond the Grave: Margery Kempe, 'deuoute ancres...of Lynne' - Liz Herbert McAvoy
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