The Mystical Body and Feminine Subjectivity in The Book of Margery Kempe


Yoo, HyunJoo

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Margery’s The Book of Margery Kempe redefines women’s corporeality through bodily manifestation of a life. While living through the body, Margery shows that her body can be part of her spiritual experience by emphasizing the physical aspects of her mystical experience. Regarding an access to the spiritual and sacred through her bodily experiences and manifestations as a privileged communication with God, Margery discovers a new source of her authority and sanctity as well as crucial positionality of her voice. Considering Margery’s recognition of the alternative hermeneutics of a refigured and reconstructed female body and femininity, this paper aims at discovering the relationship between the mystic’s female body, mystical experience beyond the patriarchal economy, and feminine subjectivity revealed in The Book of the Margery Kempe. Considering the rigorous masculine culture in the Middle Ages, the religious authority and subjectivity Margery gained during that time should never be ignored as unworthy and meaningless. Instead, her unbridled mystical practice and mobility should be considered as challenging and subversive enough to be rewarded. We need to view Margery’s experience as the disruption of boundaries between the transcendent and immanent, the overcoming of dichotomy and dualism, and the creation of a fluid subject that facilitates free actions within her world.


I. Introduction
 II. Feminine Immanence/Embodiment
 III. The Fissured/Heterogeneous Flesh and Imitatio Christi
 IV. Feminine Divine and Feminine Subjectivity
 V. Feminine Body Discourses
 VI. Conclusion
 Works Cited


  • Yoo, HyunJoo 유현주. Yonsei University


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