Medicine, Religion and Gender in Medieval Culture

Medicine, Religion and Gender in Medieval Culture

Edited by Naoë Kukita Yoshikawa





An exploration of the relations between medical and religious discourse and practice in medieval culture, focussing on how they are affected by gender.
Current preoccupations with the body have led to a growing interest in the intersections between religion, literature and the history of medicine, and, more specifically, how they converge within a given culture. This collection of essays explores the ways in which aspects of medieval culture were predicated upon an interaction between medical and religious discourses, particularly those inflected by contemporary gendered ideologies. The essays interrogate this convergence broadly in a number of different ways: textually, conceptually, historically, socially and culturally. They argue for an inextricable relationship between the physical and spiritual in accounts of health, illness and disability, and demonstrate how medical, religious and gender discourses were integrated in medieval culture.

Naoë Kukita Yoshikawa is Professor of English in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at Shizuoka University.

Contributors: Louise M. Bishop, Elma Brenner, Joy Hawkins, Roberta Magnani, Takami Matsuda, Liz Herbert McAvoy, Irina Metzler, Denis Renevey, Patricia Skinner, Juliette Vuille, Diane Watt, Naoë Kukita Yoshikawa.

Table of Contents

Introduction - Naoe Kutika Yoshikawa
Mary the Physician: Women, Religion and Medicine in the Middle Ages - Diane Watt
Chaucer's Physicians: Raising Questions of Authority - Roberta Magnani
Heavenly Vision and Psychosomatic Healing: Medical Discourse in Mechtild of Hackeborn's the Booke of Gostlye Grace - Naoe Kutika Yoshikawa
Bathing in Blood: The Medicinal Cures of Anchoritic Devotion - Liz Herbert McAvoy
"Maybe I'm Crazy?" Diagnosis and Contextualisation of Medieval Female Mystics - Juliette Vuille
Purgatory and Spiritual Healing in John Audelay's Poems - Takami Matsuda
Reginald Pecock's Reading Heart and the Health of Body and Soul - Louise M Bishop
Disabled Children: Birth Defects, Causality and Guilt - Irina Metzler
Marking the Face, Curing the Soul? Reading the Disfigurement of Women in the Later Middle Ages - Patricia Skinner
Did Drunkenness Dim the Sight? Medieval Understandings and Responses to Blindness in Medical and Religious Discourse - Joy Hawkins
Between Palliative Care and Curing the Soul: Medical and Religious Responses to Leprosy in France and England, c.1100-c.1500 - Elma Brenner
Afterword - Denis Renevey
Select Bibliography


Anyone intrigued by the peculiar body-centered, corporeal spirituality of medieval female mystics, and interested in the history of popular Christian devotion before 1500 . . . will find in this rich collection food for thought and a plethora of enlightening examples. CATHOLIC HISTORICAL REVIEW

A valuable contribution to the scholarship. FRANCIA

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