Authority and the Female Body in the Writings of Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe

Hardcover (Print)
Buy New
Buy New from
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $41.85
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 53%)
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (7) from $41.85   
  • New (5) from $41.85   
  • Used (2) from $58.54   


The writings of Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe show an awareness of traditional and contemporary attitudes towards women, in particular medieval attitudes towards the female body. This study examines the extent to which they make use of such attitudes in their writing, and investigates the importance of the female body as a means of explaining their mystical experiences and the insight gained from them; in both writers, the female body is central to their writing, leading to a feminised language through which they achieve authority and create a space in which they can be heard, particularly in the context of their religious and mystical experiences. The three archetypal representations of woman in the middle ages, as mother, as whore and as "wise woman", are all clearly present in the writings of Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe; in examining the ways in which both writers make use of these female categories, McAvoy establishes the extent of their success in resolving the tension between society's expectations of them and their own lived experiences as women and writers. LIZ HERBERT MCAVOY is Senior Lecturer in Gender in English and Medieval Literature, College of Arts and Humanities, Swansea University
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
A provocative and often insightful re-reading of the complex relationships between the female voice, body, and text in late medieval religious writing. It makes a useful contribution to recent feminist efforts to recover the marginalized voices of women in the Middle Ages. MEDIEVAL REVIEW Recommend(ed) academics researching the medieval mystical tradition from a literary perspective. REVIEWS IN RELIGION AND THEOLOGY
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781843840084
  • Publisher: Boydell & Brewer, Limited
  • Publication date: 7/6/2004
  • Series: Studies in Medieval Mysticism, #5
  • Pages: 286
  • Product dimensions: 0.69 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 6.14 (d)

Table of Contents

1 Motherhood and Margery Kempe 28
2 The motherhood matrix in the writing of Julian of Norwich 64
3 Discourses of prostitution and The Book of Margery Kempe 96
4 '[actual symbol not reproducible]yf thowe be payede,' quod our lorde, 'I am payede' : hermeneutics of the holy whore in Julian of Norwich 131
5 Margery Kempe : wisdom, authority and the female utterance 170
6 Julian of Norwich : voice of the wise woman 205
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)