- Format: Hardcover
- ISBN: 978-1-5261-5530-6
- Pages: 304
- Price: £85.00
- Published Date: September 2023
- Series: Manchester Medieval Literature and Culture
Marian maternity in late-medieval England takes advantage of the fifteenth century's intense interest in the Virgin Mary, the best-documented mother of the medieval period, to examine the constructions and performances of maternity in vernacular religious texts. By bringing together texts and authors that are not often discussed in tandem, this study offers a rich examination of the multiple factors at play as Marian material circulated among experienced devotional readers.
Taking a close look at the private devotional reading of late-medieval patrons, the book shows how texts including Chaucer's poetry, Margery Kempe's Boke, and legendaries of female saints are saturated with indirect references to and imitations of the Virgin. Marian maternity in late-medieval England employs a matricentric feminist approach to discern how readers' devotional literacies inform their understanding and imitation of the Virgin's maternal practice. Attending to internal cues in the texts, to manuscript contexts, and to the evidence and content of readers' multiple literacies, the author examines Marian maternity as both theological concept and imitable practice. The result is a book that explains late-medieval perceptions of Mary's maternity and sets them against readers' devotional, emotional and relational circumstances.
Introduction: Marian maternity, matricentric reading, and devotional literacies
Part I The reader: Margery Kempe's devotional literacies and imitatio Mariae
1 The Dominican literacies of Margery Kempe's pilgrimages
2 Mar(ger)y at the foot of the Cross
Part II The genre: Defining Marian absence in legendaries of women
3 The community service of mystics' maternal bodies
4 'In Our Lady's Binds': Mary's maternal peers in East Anglian devotion
Part III The author: Chaucer as matricentric poet
5 A Mary for every mother: mothers as agents of orthodoxy
6 A Marian, maternal Cecilia
Conclusion: 'Show yourself a mother'
Mary Beth Long is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Arkansas.