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Memorial University - Electronic Theses and Dissertations 2
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Document Description
TitleVirgin, bride and lover : a study of the relationship between sexuality and spirituality in anchoritic literature
AuthorInnes Parker, Catherine A., 1956-
DescriptionThesis (Ph.D.)--Memorial University of Newfoundland, 1992. English Language and Literature
Paginationxi, 432 leaves.
SubjectAncren Riwle; Monastic and religious life of women--History--Middle Ages, 600-1500; Monastic and religious life of women--Psychology; Virginity--Religious aspects--Christianity
Degree GrantorMemorial University of Newfoundland. Dept. of English Language and Literature
DisciplineEnglish Language and Literature
Temporal CoverageMiddle Ages, 600-1500
NotesBibliography: leaves [416]-429.
AbstractThe spirituality portrayed in Ancrene Wisse and the texts associated with it is rooted in the anchoress' own situation; a female solitary enclosed within the four walls of her anchorhouse. The images used to express that spirituality are tied to her experience of enclosure and to her gender. These two elements come together in the matrix of anchorhouse/body/heart, in which the anchoress' female body becomes identified with the anchorhouse in which it is enclosed. The spirituality of these texts is thus deeply grounded in the anchoress' sexuality and her perception of her own body. - The images of enclosure and female sexuality which dominate these texts are expressed in terms of the paradox of the virgin who is at the same time the lover and bride of Christ. The female body enclosed within the anchorhouse is sealed by physical chastity, just as the anchoress is sealed within her anchorhouse. Physical purity is itself an image or symbol of the purity of heart and soul which is an essential prerequisite for the anchoress' goal of union with God. It is for this, and this alone, that she has turned from the world and enclosed her body and heart in the confines of her anchorhouse. -- The union with God which the anchoress seeks is also described in images which are governed by both her enclosure and her gender. The spiritual quest of the anchoress is unequivocally the search of a female devotee for a male God, who approaches her in very human terms. The enclosed chamber of her heart which she prepares for his coming is the arbour or bower in which she greets her beloved, and the nest or womb in which she nurtures her God. Her union with God is described in terms both sensual and sensuous, combining erotic imagery with imagery of motherhood and fertility. The erotic union with Christ available to the anchoress in her enclosure transforms and redeems, as the body which is vulnerable to lust (her own and others') becomes the vessel which bears Christ through imitation and union.
Resource TypeElectronic thesis or dissertation
FormatImage/jpeg; Application/pdf
SourcePaper copy kept in the Centre for Newfoundland Studies, Memorial University Libraries
Local Identifier76138678
RightsThe author retains copyright ownership and moral rights in this thesis. Neither the thesis nor substantial extracts from it may be printed or otherwise reproduced without the author's permission.
CollectionElectronic Theses and Dissertations
Scanning StatusCompleted
PDF File(52.78 MB) --
CONTENTdm file name72101.cpd