Medieval Saints' Lives

November 2008
6 colour illustrations
292 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
ISBN: 9781843841807
Format: Hardback
Library eBook

Medieval Saints' Lives

The Gift, Kinship and Community in Old French Hagiography

Emma Campbell

The significance of Old French hagiography in current theoretical debates in medieval studies and the humanities.
Contending that the study of hagiography is significant both for a consideration of medieval literature and for current theoretical debates in medieval studies, this book considers a range of Old French and Anglo-Norman texts, using modern theories of kinship and community to show how saints' lives construe social and sexual relations. Focusing on the depiction of the gift, kinship and community, the book maintains that social and sexual systems play a key role in vernacular hagiography. Such systems, along with the desires they produce and control, are, it is argued, central to hagiography's religious functions, particularly its role as a vehicle of community formation. In attempting to think beyond the limits of human relationships, saints' lives nonetheless create an environment in which queer desires and modes of connection become possible, suggesting that, in this case at least, the orthodox nurtures the queer. This book thus suggests not only that medieval hagiography is worthy of greater attention but also that this corpus might provide an important resource for theorizing community in its medieval contexts and for thinking it in the present.

EMMA CAMPBELL is Associate Professor of French at the University of Warwick.

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Table of Contents

The Gift, Sacrifice and Social Economy
The Gender of the Gift
Incest and Life at the Limits of the Social
Marriage and Queer Desire
Textual Community
Queer Community
The Campsey Manuscript [London, BL, Additional 70513]
Oxford, Bodleian, Canonici Miscellaneous 74


Demonstrates with grace and style how the field of vernacular hagiography conjoins the disciplines of theology, history, anthropology, mythology, and critical theory. [...] Its refashioning of the ways in which we discuss hagiography within the medieval and modern canon could not be more timely. MEDIUM AEVUM

This riveting and wide-ranging study is most welcome. FRENCH STUDIES

The ideological complexities of Old French saints' lives are perceptively analysed in this concentrated and scholarly study, which contributes significantly not only to hagiological research but also to cultural anthropology and current theories of gender, identity, and literary reception. [...] this riveting and wide-ranging study is most welcome. FRENCH STUDIES

[An] extremely useful book. All those interested in hagiography, medieval kinship, and reading communities will read it with interest. CHURCH HISTORY

Wide-ranging and erudite.Campbell is a medievalist's medievalist, but she is as at ease in her analyses of manuscripts as in her crystalline glosses of writers like Agamben, Butler, Lacan, and Nancy. L'ESPRIT CREATEUR

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