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The Word Made Flesh: The Perception of Holiness in the Texts of Late Medieval and Early Modern Women in England

The Word Made Flesh: The Perception of Holiness in the Texts of Late Medieval and Early Modern Women in England

By Amy Kathleen Howard

PhD Dissertation, University of Minnesota, 2009

Abstract: This project analyzes the perception of holiness in the texts of four late medieval and early modern holy women. It argues that lived holiness was defined not by strict religious standards, but by the reaction of the communities in which these women lived and wrote. These reactions could be influenced by factors ranging from the type of spiritual expression that was manifested to the political circumstances in which the holy woman lived. These women used their texts as a way to advocate for the holiness of their spiritual experiences and their lives.

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Image of Holiness

Chapter One: Through a Glass, Darkly: Julian of Norwich’s Reconciliation of Doctrine and Belief

Chapter Two: “Puzel or pucelle?” Contrasting Perceptions of Joan of Arc

Chapter Three: Medieval Self-Fashioning: The Construction of the Holy Woman in The Book of Margery Kempe

Chapter Four: Protestant Martyr or Catholic Saint: The Presentation of Holiness in The Examinations of Anne Askew

Conclusion: In the Beginning was the Word

Click here to read/download this thesis (PDF file)

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