Holy Harlots in Medieval English Religious Literature: Authority, Exemplarity and Femininity

Details

Serval ID
serval:BIB_9FD23E4B7490
Type
Book:A book with an explicit publisher.
Collection
Publications
Institution
Title
Holy Harlots in Medieval English Religious Literature: Authority, Exemplarity and Femininity
Author(s)
Vuille Juliette
Publisher
D. S. Brewer
Address of publication
Woodbridge
ISBN
978-1-84384-589-8
Publication state
In Press
Peer-reviewed
Oui
Series
Gender in the Middle Ages
Language
english
Abstract
This book constitutes the first full-length investigation of the type of saint commonly known as the holy harlot, which includes figures such as Mary Magdalene and Mary of Egypt. This monograph covers texts from the ninth to the sixteenth century, in Old English, Middle English, and the French of England, correcting the misconception that harlot saints are atypical figures of femininity and sanctity, establishing them instead as particularly malleable and multivalent models that are central in transforming mainstream understandings of piety and womanhood.
The repentant harlot represents femininity as a whole, and was a prominent example offered up by hagiographers for all to imitate, although she was particularly appealing to women. The harlot saint helped shape a gradual shift in the valuation of femininity in the period: from her standing for a fallen humanity that is to be combatted to reach sanctity in Old English texts, the harlot saint accrues positive connotations in the later medieval period, when a “holy harlot”-type of femininity is embraced as a model for both men and women to imitate in their quest for salvation. She is also used to articulate innovative and reformist concepts, signifying the soul's movement from carnal to spiritual love for Bernard of Clairvaux, the ideal preacher for Wycliffites, or the perfect precedent to validate female mystics' authority and unconventional path to sanctity.
Keywords
Gender, Hagiography, Old English, Middle English, Anglo-Norman, Authority, Female Body
Publisher's website
Create date
25/08/2020 16:32
Last modification date
26/08/2020 6:22
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