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This collection of commissioned essays explores women's vernacular theology through a wide range of medieval prose and verse texts, from saints' lives to visionary literature. Employing a historicist methodology, the essays are sited at the intersection of two discursive fields: female spiritual practice and female textual practice. The contributors are primarily interested in the relation of women to religious books, as writers, receivers, and as objects of representation. They focus on historical approaches to the question of women's spirituality, and generically unrestricted examinations of issues of female literacy, book ownership, and reading practice. The essays are grouped under four main themes: the influence of anchoritic spirituality upon later lay piety, Carthusian links with female spirituality, the representation of femininity in Anglo-Norman and Middle English religious poetry, and veneration, performance and delusion in the Book of Margery Kempe.
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