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Margery Kempe: Madwoman or Mystic – A Narrative Approach to the Representation of Madness and Mysticism in Medieval England

Torn, Alison (2008) Margery Kempe: Madwoman or Mystic – A Narrative Approach to the Representation of Madness and Mysticism in Medieval England. In: Narrative and Fiction: an Interdisciplinary Approach. University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield, pp. 79-89.

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      Abstract

      Historically, the boundaries between madness and mysticism have been characterised by fluidity. However, since the emergence of psychiatry in the 1800s, attempts have been made to place a firm distinction between the two experiences. In our increasingly Western, secularised society, experiences of mysticism have become marginalised outside of their religious context and in some cases, pathologised within the classificatory systems that construct mental illness. In this paper, I want to examine this contested boundary by discussing my analysis of a medieval woman’s experience of both madness and mysticism. I shall argue that rather than this text being interpreted as an early narrative of madness, it is primarily an attempted hagiography, that is a narrative of a saint's life.

      Item Type: Book Chapter
      Additional Information: Copyright for chapters remain with individual authors at all times and permission should be sought from the author for any reproduction other than for personal use.
      Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0441 Literary History
      D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D111 Medieval History
      Schools: School of Human and Health Sciences > Narrative and Memory Research Group > Narrative and Memory Research Group Annual Conference
      School of Human and Health Sciences
      Related URLs:
      Depositing User: Cherry Edmunds
      Date Deposited: 25 Jun 2009 17:01
      Last Modified: 30 Jul 2010 14:07
      URI: http://eprints.hud.ac.uk/id/eprint/4830

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