Male Authors, Female Readers: Representation and Subjectivity in Middle English Devotional Literature

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Although written to increase their female audience's religious fervor, devotional texts implicitly promoted cultural values drawn from other discourses as well. Within the same text, Bartlett shows, a woman reader might be invited to identify not only with the temptress reviled by misogynistic ascetics, but simultaneously with the courtly domina, the supportive spiritual friend of the author, or with the erotic sponsa Christi. Because of the varying levels of literacy of medieval women readers, however - as well as the abundance of competing representations of those readers - the overt messages of devotional texts were interrupted and distorted. As Bartlett analyzes the complex relationship between misogynistic literature and the development of female subjectivity in the Middle Ages, she helps refute the assumption common among feminist critics that women necessarily internalize negative portrayals. An appendix lists and describes all extant books and manuscripts that were owned by medieval English nuns and convents.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801430381
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 5/11/1995
  • Pages: 208
  • Lexile: 1620L (what's this?)

Table of Contents

I Reading Medieval Women Reading Devotional Literature 1
II Gendering and Regendering: The Case of De institutione inclusarum 34
III "Letters of Love": Feminine Courtesy and Religious Instruction 56
IV "Ghostly Sister in Jesus Christ": Spiritual Friendship and Sexual Politics 86
V "I Would Have Been One of Them": Translation, Contemplation, and Gender 115
Afterword: Beyond Misogyny(?) 142
Appendix: A Descriptive List of Extant Books Owned by Medieval English Nuns and Convents 149
Bibliography 173
Index 207
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