“The World on the End of a Reed”: Marguerite Porete and the annihilation of an identity in medieval and modern representations – a reassessment
Bussey, Francesca Caroline
Doctor of Philosophy, University of Sydney, December (2007)
This thesis presents a new assessment of the identity and historical significance of Marguerite Porete, burned for heresy in Paris in 1310, and reconnects her to a vigorous, lay, discourse community that threatened the authority of the later medieval church. The thesis argues that a bilateral annihilation of Porete as an historical subject has been brought about by medieval and modern representations, and that this has served to obscure the presence of a subaltern religious discourse in the period. The
historiography of Porete has followed distinctive stages of development that reflect, and are affected by, concurrent advances in the study of medieval female religious participation. This interplay has led to the development of a particularly influential hermeneutics that serves to exclude Porete from her contemporaries. Analysis of documentation issuing from Porete‟s condemnation has similarly been influenced by hermeneutic issues that manipulate the ways in which Porete is perceived as an identity. This thesis challenges dominant representations of Porete in the scholarship and argues that Porete‟s identity and discourse reflect a particularly vigorous, fluid and cross-discoursed lay engagement with religiosity that has roots in the precocious socio-religious environment of the Southern Low Countries.