Margery Kempe's Spiritual Medicine
Suffering, Transformation and the Life-Course
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Publisher: Boydell & Brewer Ltd
Number of Pages: 268
Width: 15.6 cm
Height: 23.4 cm
Margery Kempe's various illnesses, mental, spiritual and physical, are a recurring theme in her Book. This volume, the first full-length interdisciplinary study from a medical humanities perspective, offers a medicalized reading of Kempe's spirituality in the context of the ubiquitous medieval notion of Christ the Physician, and thus a new way of interpreting the Book itself: as a narrative of Kempe's own engagement with the medical paradigms of which she has previously been a passive subject. Focusing on the interactions of medicine, mysticism and reproduction as a feminist project, the author explores the ontology of female flesh; the productive use of pain, suffering and sickness; and the ethics of a maternal theology based on the melancholic and surrogate activities that underlie Kempe's experience. Structured broadly via a traverse through the life course, the book shows how Kempe's response to suffering is illuminated by the medieval medical discourse by which she is contemporaneously read, and by which she engineers her own construction and understanding of self. It also explores Kempe's persistent attendance to her mystical body and refusal to compromise her instinct to authentically show how she feels.