"Ye that heres and sees this vision": Imagined Readers, Imagined Reading in Late Medieval English Devotional Writing

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dc.contributor.author Huffman, Rebecca
dc.date.accessioned 2019-07-08T19:45:08Z
dc.date.available NO_RESTRICTION
dc.date.available 2019-07-08T19:45:08Z
dc.date.issued 2019
dc.date.submitted 2019
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/2027.42/149955
dc.description.abstract Drawing on a range of Middle English devotional writings from ca. 1370 to ca. 1435, including a confessional manual, revelatory visions, an autobiography, and lives of Christ, I argue that writers in these genres imagine a vast and variously literate lay readership. This project investigates how texts and writers engage with readers. At the same time, it uses manuscript evidence to examine the different ways in which historical readers came into contact with devotional texts. The first chapter uses the Parson’s Tale in Longleat MS 29, a compilation of devotional texts where the Parson appears alongside Walter Hilton and Richard Rolle, to construct a reading of the tale as a lay-oriented penitential manual for self-directed devout readers. With Chaucer’s name cut from the tale and the work presented in an unambiguously religious context, the manual fosters independent spiritual edification for its readers while continuing to direct them to the institutional church for the sacrament of confession. In the second chapter, this project moves to Julian of Norwich’s Short and Long Texts. Readers here are imagined as allies and students; their engagement with the text is envisioned as a dramatically multimedia— in particular visionary— experience, which calls on their familiarity with sacred and secular images. This chapter explores the text’s image-based pedagogical strategies by putting Julian’s well-known literary imagery into conversation with site-specific research in Norwich and its surroundings. The result is a shared visionary experience in which readers are taught to read the material conditions of their lives devotionally. Nicholas Love’s Mirror of the Blessed Life of Jesus Christ anticipates a more complicated reception in the third chapter, situating its imagined readers in a stew of divergent literary interpretations of Christ’s life and acknowledging the inevitability of differing readings. Inherent to these competing and coexisting lives of Christ is variety in form and mode of reception. Juxtaposing the Mirror and a unique lyric meditation on the life of Christ extant in British Museum Addit. MS 11307, this chapter uses close reading and manuscript study to investigate how imagined readers are invited to work through both texts with a degree of spiritual autonomy. The fourth chapter moves later into the fifteenth century with The Book of Margery Kempe. The Book is both a record of reading and an instructional text on how to read; as Margery reads religious texts and comes into her own spiritual authority, her body and behavior are read and misread by the communities around her. As Margery herself becomes text, she develops a reading practice that trusts the surface meaning of texts. The coda returns to Julian’s Long Text and the medieval devotional texts compiled in British Museum Addit. MS 11307. MS 11307 and Fonds Anglais 40 are separately remade for a post-Reformation and post-manuscript readership, and their new manuscript and print contexts embroil them in controversies about England’s religious past and the value of preserving old texts.
dc.language.iso en_US
dc.subject medieval literature
dc.subject reading
dc.subject Geoffrey Chaucer
dc.subject Julian of Norwich
dc.subject Nicholas Love
dc.subject Margery Kempe
dc.title "Ye that heres and sees this vision": Imagined Readers, Imagined Reading in Late Medieval English Devotional Writing
dc.type Thesis
dc.description.thesisdegreename PHD
dc.description.thesisdegreediscipline English Language & Literature
dc.description.thesisdegreegrantor University of Michigan, Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies
dc.contributor.committeemember Tinkle, Theresa L
dc.contributor.committeemember McCracken, Peggy S
dc.contributor.committeemember Sanok, Catherine
dc.contributor.committeemember Taylor, Karla T
dc.subject.hlbsecondlevel English Language and Literature
dc.subject.hlbtoplevel Humanities
dc.description.bitstreamurl https://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/2027.42/149955/1/rnhuff_1.pdf
dc.identifier.orcid 0000-0002-9342-1343
dc.identifier.name-orcid Huffman, Rebecca; 0000-0002-9342-1343 en_US
dc.owningcollname Dissertations and Theses (Ph.D. and Master's)
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