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Margery Kempe's Spiritual Medicine: Suffering, Transformation and the Life-Course / Laura Kalas

Swansea University Author: Laura Kalas

Abstract

Margery Kempe’s Spiritual Medicine is the first full-length interdisciplinary study of 'The Book of Margery Kempe' from a medical humanities perspective. Laura Kalas Williams reveals the value of a medicalized reading of Kempe’s spirituality in the context of the ubiquitous medieval notion...

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ISBN: 9781843845546 9781787446878
Published: Woodbridge, Cambridge. Boydell and Brewer. 2020
Online Access: https://boydellandbrewer.com/margery-kempe-s-spiritual-medicine-hb.html
URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa36181
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Abstract: Margery Kempe’s Spiritual Medicine is the first full-length interdisciplinary study of 'The Book of Margery Kempe' from a medical humanities perspective. Laura Kalas Williams reveals the value of a medicalized reading of Kempe’s spirituality in the context of the ubiquitous medieval notion of Christ the Physician, and offers a new way of interpreting the Book as a narrative of Kempe’s own active 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, Williams 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, 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. 'Margery Kempe’s Spiritual Medicine' explores Kempe’s persistent attendance to her mystical body and refusal to compromise her instinct to authentically show how she feels. Williams shows how Margery Kempe, in memorialising her life through a retrospective of the meaning of human pain, constructs a manner of devotion that is both radical in its surrogate power and familiar in its socio-biological context.
Keywords: Margery Kempe, illness, medical humanities, pain, surrogacy, book of Margery Kempe, Christian women, religious life, medieval medical discourse.