Angels and Anchoritic Culture in Late Medieval England

ISBN : 9780198865414

Joshua S. Easterling
240 ページ
153 x 234 mm

The monograph series Oxford Studies in Medieval Literature and Culture showcases the plurilingual and multicultural quality of medieval literature and actively seeks to promote research that not only focuses on the array of subjects medievalists now pursue in literature, theology, and philosophy, in social, political, jurisprudential, and intellectual history, the history of art, and the history of science but also that combines these subjects productively. It offers innovative studies on topics that may include, but are not limited to, manuscript and book history; languages and literatures of the global Middle Ages; race and the post-colonial; the digital humanities, media and performance; music; medicine; the history of affect and the emotions; the literature and practices of devotion; the theory and history of gender and sexuality, ecocriticism and the environment; theories of aesthetics; medievalism. This volume examines Latin and vernacular writings that formed part of a flourishing culture of mystical experience in the later Middle Ages (ca. 1150-1400), including the ways in which visionaries within their literary milieu negotiated the tensions between personal, charismatic inspiration and their allegiance to church authority. It situates texts written in England within their wider geographical and intellectual context through comparative analyses with contemporary European writings. A recurrent theme across all of these works is the challenge that a largely masculine and clerical culture faced in the form of the various, and potentially unruly, spiritualities that emerged powerfully from the twelfth century onward. Representatives of these major spiritual developments, including the communities that fostered them, were often collaborative in their expression. For example, holy women, including nuns, recluses, and others, were recognized by their supporters within the church for their extraordinary spiritual graces, even as these individual expressions of piety were in many cases at variance with securely orthodox religious formations. These writings become eloquent witnesses to a confrontation between inner, revelatory experience and the needs of the church to set limitations upon charismatic spiritualities that, with few exceptions, carried the seeds of religious dissent. Moreover, while some of the most remarkable texts at the centre of this volume were authored (and/or primarily read) by women, the intellectual and religious concerns in play cut across the familiar and all-too-conventional boundaries of gender and social and institutional affiliation.


Introduction: Anchoritic Communities
1 The Arrival of Angels
2 Charismatic Anchorites and the Making of Truth
3 Lay Preaching and Living Saints
4 The Angel, the Confessor, and the Anchoress
5 The Transformation of Perfection
6 A Mirror of Clerical Authority


Joshua Easterling teaches medieval English literature at Murray State University (Kentucky). His research, which has appeared in a variety of academic journals, focuses on late medieval religious writings, and in particular the large body of mystical and visionary texts composed in Europe and England from the twelfth through fourteenth centuries. More recently, Dr Easterling's scholarship has benefitted substantially from his collaboration with colleagues at the Freie Universitat in Berlin, where he worked with the support of a post-doctoral research fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. His longer-term research and teaching agenda concerns questions of authority and authorship within the writings of late medieval mystics.