Women and Mystical Experience in the Middle Ages

August 1992
12 black and white illustrations
180 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
ISBN: 9780851153438
Format: Paperback
Library eBook
Boydell Press

Women and Mystical Experience in the Middle Ages

Frances Beer

Original and thought—provoking study of three medieval women mystics based on writings and biographical material.
`A wholly feminine voice within Catholicism-they express the inexpressible better than any amount of rational thinking about God.' THE TIMES
The three women who are the subject of this fascinating study lefta rich legacy of medieval spirituality. Frances Beer explores their writings and draws on available historical evidence to bring the experience of all three women closer to a 20th-century audience. She sees Hildegard's perception of her Creator as informed by the heroic ideal, while Mechthild's erotic experience seems to show the influence of the minnesingers. Julian's experience of tender intimacy with her Lord demonstrates an egalitarian confidence in the ability of the individual soul to progress towards onenesswith the divine. Their individual natures are also further revealed through the author's examination of their resolution of a number of theological problems. In contrast, the works of two medieval men writing for women are also explored.
FRANCESBEER is Associate Professor of English at York University, Toronto.

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A fascinating and detailed account of medieval spirituality from a feminine perspective... The clarity and liveliness of her writing make her scholarly analysis accessible and highly worthwhile [to undergraduates as well as to graduate students] CHOICEFrances Beer's elegantly written study affirms the sanity, autonomy and religious genius of her medieval heroines... [She] provides an ideological context for the choice of the religious life [: unthinking misogyny parroted from classical texts; Germanic and Anglo-Saxon admiration for the `valorous woman' at the head of the warrior band and for the virgin who despises torture; the disconcerting shift of erotic idealisation of a remote lady and the relationship of love poetry to the praise of Christ the Bridegroom]. TIMES HIGHER EDUCATIONAL SUPPLEMENT

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