WOMEN AND THE EMPIRICAL: LANGUAGE, BELIEF AND SENSORY PERCEPTION
Women’s relation to the empirical in the Middle Ages is a topic that has long been under debate: traditionally it has been assumed that women were associated with the emotions and the body, whilst men allied themselves to the rational and the spirit. Recent feminist recuperations, however, have challenged this reductive binary, with much interest having been directed at the notion of ‘truth’, for example, as expounded by, say, Marie de France, Christine de Pizan, Margery Kempe or Julian of Norwich within an ‘English’ tradition of women’s writing. Further afield, Anneke Mulder-Bakker has demonstrated a clear interplay between men, women, the emotional and the rationale in the religious milieux of the Low Countries in the Middle Ages, whilst Sarah McNamer has challenged accepted views of the male monastic origins of late medieval affective devotional activities, pointing towards a far more nuanced interactive collaboration between medieval women and men, and between emotional and intellectual responses to both the worldly and the divine.
This session therefore seeks papers from a range of disciplinary perspectives that address any aspects of medieval women’s relation to the empirical, whether that empiricism was ordered by the senses, the emotions, the intellect, the demands of literary genre or by visionary or mystical modes of perception. Theoretical approaches to the topic are particularly welcome.
Abstracts of up to 500 words should be sent to Liz Herbert McAvoy (firstname.lastname@example.org) by September 15, 2013.