BIROn - Birkbeck Institutional Research Online

    Where did Margery Kempe cry?

    Bale, Anthony (2019) Where did Margery Kempe cry? In: Barbezat, M. and Scott, A. (eds.) Fluid Bodies and Bodily Fluids in Premodern Europe: Bodies, Blood, and Tears in Literature, Theology, and Art. Arc Humanities Press. ISBN 9781641892384.

    [img] Text
    ARC-BL_Scott-Fluid_2-Bale.pdf - Published Version of Record
    Restricted to Repository staff only

    Download (2MB)

    Abstract

    The Book of Margery Kempe (1436 x 1438) is a unique and crucial document for exploring medieval subjectivity. At its heart, it is a text about one person’s sensitive reactions—Kempe’s “mevynggys,” “steringgys,” “felyngys,” “peynes”—and as such it offers a hugely value account for the historian of emotions. In this essay I turn to Kempe’s tears, one of the most striking and controversial elements of her religious identity. The first modern editor of Kempe’s book, the American medievalist Hope Emily Allen, diagnosed Kempe in the 1930s with what she called “neuroticism” because of her tears. In offering this medical or quasi-medical diagnosis, Allen set the tone of much twentieth-century writing on Kempe, in which Kempe was described as suffering “post-partum psychosis,” as being “quite mad—an uncurable hysteric with a large paranoid trend,” a depressive woman going through “a manic-depressive illness,” as a “psyhotic,” as suffering from “frontal lobe epilepsy.” These assessments—given by neither qualified medical doctors nor psychiatrists—diagnose Kempe’s crying as an illness and an ailment to be explained medically or psychologically, rather than understood spiritually or rhetorically, which is how I approach it here.

    Metadata

    Item Type: Book Section
    School: Birkbeck Schools and Departments > School of Arts > English, Theatre and Creative Writing
    Depositing User: Anthony Bale
    Date Deposited: 27 Nov 2019 11:05
    Last Modified: 29 Nov 2019 18:34
    URI: http://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/id/eprint/29709

    Statistics

    Downloads
    Activity Overview
    1Download
    27Hits

    Additional statistics are available via IRStats2.

    Archive Staff Only (login required)

    Edit/View Item Edit/View Item