umu.sePublications
Change search
CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf
“The Swet, Gracious Handes of Oure Moder”: divine and earthly mothering in St. Birgitta of Sweden, Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of language studies. (Umeå Group for Premodern Studies)ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6368-9173
2015 (English)Report (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

“The Swet, Gracious Handes of Oure Moder”: Divine and Earthly Mothering in St. Birgitta of Sweden, Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe

Like the major part of medieval devotional culture since the thirteenth century, medieval visionary writing was fascinated by the physical and emotional aspects of Mary’s motherhood. Striking depictions of these, as well as of Christ as a mother, can be found in the works of three near-contemporary female visionaries: St. Birgitta of Sweden (1303-1373), noblewoman, pilgrim and mother of eight, Julian of Norwich (1342- after 1416), anchoress, vernacular theologian and first known English woman writer, and Margery Kempe (c. 1373 - after 1439), businesswoman, pilgrim and mother of thirteen. Birgitta, Julian and Margery not only explore the mothering by the Mother of God and (as Julian writes) “God oure moder”, (self)-representations of earthly mothers and children occur throughout their texts as well.  In this paper I discuss the unique yet interacting forms of what of Liz Herbert McAvoy calls the “motherhood matrix”  (64) in these three medieval mystics’ texts, focusing on physical acts of mothering such as giving birth, swaddling a newborn, breastfeeding, chastising, and washing. I argue that in their self-representation as and depiction of earthly mothers and children, each seeks to emulate divine motherhood and childhood in a distinct manner closely linked to their larger themes regarding self, body and God:  Julian’s theme of mutual indwelling of God and mankind, Margery’s physical appropriation of Christ’s and Mary’s body, and Birgitta’s theme of the inscription of Mary’s sensations on her own body. Furthermore, Birgitta’s Liber Celestis being well-known in late-fourteenth- and early-fifteenth-century England, the dialogue between these three motherhood matrices will be addressed. Finally, I show that depicting themselves as similar in body and actions to the Mother of God and God our Mother allows Birgitta, Julian and Margery to create texts with both theological authority and strong narrative agency. Work cited: Herbert McAvoy, Liz. Authority and the Female Body in the Writings of Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe. Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 2004. Print.

 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet , 2015. Vol. 2, 12 p.
Series
UGPS Working Paper Series, 2
Keyword [en]
Medieval mysticism, vernacular theology
National Category
Specific Literatures
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-128743OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-128743DiVA: diva2:1056055
Conference
Parenthood and Childhood in the Middle Ages, Edinburgh (8 October 2015)
Available from: 2016-12-13 Created: 2016-12-13 Last updated: 2017-02-08Bibliographically approved

Open Access in DiVA

fulltext(466 kB)20 downloads
File information
File name FULLTEXT01.pdfFile size 466 kBChecksum SHA-512
3e1096da77eda72742a84b2ab26cdca1e07c35466e297496099005006886546f46d815639ac6bd964f651e393ffd96694b1ebfec966339ddb780229af7fe17f6
Type fulltextMimetype application/pdf

Search in DiVA

By author/editor
Perk, Godelinde
By organisation
Department of language studies
Specific Literatures

Search outside of DiVA

GoogleGoogle Scholar
Total: 20 downloads
The number of downloads is the sum of all downloads of full texts. It may include eg previous versions that are now no longer available

Total: 25 hits
CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf