Based upon a corpus of nearly five hundred texts from the Southern Low Countries, this study offers a thorough analysis of the history of hagiographic discourse in the Central Middle Ages. The book opens with a theoretical discussion on the historical relevance of hagiography as a genre of discourse, in order to overcome recent postmodern criticism of traditional genre-distinctions and to develop a conceptual framework, mainly inspired by the literary criticism of Mikhail Bakhtin, for research on the interplay between discourse and society in the longue duree. The author subsequently sketches the history of hagiographic text production, while taking into account the growing spread and practice of literacy, the rise of the vernacular, the problems of authorship, changing stylistic preferences, and so forth. The third part of the book deals with the long-term discursive strategies in hagiographic propaganda, by analysing aspects such as the evolution in the social and religious profiles of the saints described, or the changing contexts for the uses of saints' cults. The fourth and last part, on so-called discursive tactics, presents six case-studies of hagiographical texts which, despite their importance, have nevertheless failed to guarantee the lasting success of the saintly actors featured in them. In this way, these case-studies offer a counter-balance to what may appear as an organic evolution of long-term hagiographic strategies. Hence, this book presents not so much a study of the medieval saints themselves, but of the relationship between developments in hagiographic discourse and religious and social renewal.
About the Author
Jeroen Deploige is lecturer of medieval cultural history at Ghent University. His publications include In nomine femineo indocta. Kennisprofiel en ideologie van Hildegard van Bingen (1098-1179) (Hilversum: Verloren, 1998) and (ed., with Gita Deneckere) Mystifying the Monarch. Studies on Discourse, Power, and History (Amsterdam: AUP, 2006)