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Approaching Medieval English Anchoritic and Mystical Texts


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This volume seeks to explore the origins, context and content of the anchoritic and mystical texts produced in England during the Middle Ages and to examine the ways in which these texts may be studied and taught today. It foregrounds issues of context and interaction, seeking both to position medieval spiritual writings against a surprisingly wide range of contemporary contexts and to face the challenge of making these texts accessible to a wider readership. The contributions, by leading scholars in the field, incorporate historical, literary and theological perspectives and offer critical approaches and background material which will inform both research and teaching.
The approaches to Middle English anchoritic and mystical texts suggested in this volume are many and varied. In this they reflect the richness and complexity of the contexts from which these writings emerged. These essays are offered as part of an ongoing exploration of aspects of medieval spirituality which, while posing a considerable challenge to modern readers, also offer invaluable insights into the interaction between medieval culture and belief.

Contributors: E.A. Jones, Dee Dyas, Valerie Edden, Santha Bhattachariji, Denis Renevey, A.C. Spearing, Thomas Bestul, Liz Herbert McAvoy, Barry A. Windeatt, Alexandra Barratt, R.S. Allen, Roger Ellis, Ann M. Hutchison, Marion Glasscoe, Catherine Innes-Parker


This volume represents a concise, and yet rich and detailed, contribution to the field. It will be particularly helpful for those intending to teach in this area for the first time, but will also provide scholars and more advanced students with food for thought, and with inspiration for their own research. JOURNAL OF ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY
There is much to recommend here, and general readers are not excluded. A well-documented study that will interest and stimulate to further scrutiny both those new to the subject and those of greater experience. CHURCH TIMES


First Published: 15 Jul 2005
13 Digit ISBN: 9781843840497
2 black and white illustrations
Pages: 229
Size: 23.4 x 15.6
Binding: Hardback
Imprint: D.S.Brewer

Details updated on 05 Oct 2015


  • 1  Anchorites and Hermits in Historical Context
  • 2  `Wildernesse is Anlich Lif of Ancre Wununge': the Wilderness and Medieval Anchoritic Spirituality
  • 3  The Devotional Life of the Laity in the Late Middle Ages
  • 4  Medieval Contemplation and Mystical Experience
  • 5  Richard Rolle
  • 6  Language and its Limits: The Cloud of Unknowing and Pearl
  • 7  Walter Hilton
  • 8  `And thou, to whom this Booke Shall Come': Julian of Norwich and her Audience, Past, Present and Future
  • 9  `I use but Comownycacyon and Good Wordys': Teaching and The Book Of Margery Kempe
  • 10  Teaching Anchoritic Texts: the Shock of the Old [Appendix: Ch. 14 of The Rule of a Recluse, from MS Bodley 423
  • 11  Introducing the Mystics
  • 12  Holy Fictions: Another Approach to the Middle English Mystics
  • 13  Approaching Medieval Women Mystics in the Twenty-First Century
  • 14  Contexts for Teaching Julian of Norwich [Appendix: `Stond wel, moder, under rode']
  • 15  Appendix: Learning by Doing: Margery Kempe and students today
  • 16  Appendix: Useful terms for students [with Roger Ellis and Ann M. Hutchison]
  • 17  Appendix: Useful terms for students [with Dee Dyas and Ann M. Hutchison]
  • 18  Appendix: Useful terms for students [with Dee Dyas and Roger Ellis]