Liam Peter Temple deposited Returning the English “Mystics” to their Medieval Milieu: Julian of Norwich, Margery Kempe and Bridget of Sweden in the group Medieval Studies on Humanities Commons 6 years, 10 months ago
The conceptualization of a group of “medieval English mystics” has caused significant controversy in recent decades. A product of scholarly accounts of the Reformation dominated by confessional bias, the concept of a group of uniquely English authors who existed outside of their wider English and continental contexts has been steadily eroded by scholars from a diverse range of fields. This article argues that two of these “English mystics”, Julian of Norwich (c.1342–c.1416) and Margery Kempe (c.1373–after 1438), should be repositioned within a transnational tradition of feminized affective piety, rather than confined to an “English mystical tradition”. Through a comparison of the texts of Julian and Margery with those of one of their most influential continental counterparts, Bridget of Sweden (1303–73), the textual similarities of the three women in their accounts of Christ’s crucifixion and the suffering of Mary are explored. This article concludes by exploring how Julian’s and Margery’s texts were situated within a wider continental tradition of female mystical experience in order to legitimize their contents. Returning these “mystics” to their wider medieval milieu, it is argued here, is the most productive avenue for further research on these medieval figures.