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The Obfuscation of Bodily Sight in the Showings of Julian of Norwich


The article examines the ways in which the Showings of Julian of Norwich engages in medieval eucharistic discussions in order to deprivilege the importance of physical sight in lay participation in the Eucharist. Julian disempowers physical sight by intentionally obfuscating her discussion of bodily sight and by equalizing bodily and ghostly sight as modes of understanding God. Applying the framework of modern disability studies reveals that Julian's treatment of bodily sight has important consequences for the construction of blindness as disability in the Middle Ages. Because Julian works to de-emphasize the role of physical sight in lay participation in the Eucharist, she works against a central way in which blind people were disabled in the Middle Ages.

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