In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Reviews 201 by the end of the seventeenth century, as institutions came to be defined in more masculine terms. This is an excellent book and highly recommended. Carole M. Cusack Studies in Religion University of Sydney Mooney, Catherine M., ed., Gendered Voices: Medieval Saints and their Interpreters (Middle Ages Series), Philadelphia, University of Philadelphia Press, 1999; pp. xi, 276; R R P US$39.95 (cloth), US$19.95 (paper); ISBN 081223485 (cloth), 0812216873 (paper). Since the 1987 publication of Caroline Walker Bynum's ground-breaking Holy Feast and Holy Fast there has been a steady stream of scholarship appearing on the women mystics of the twelfth tofifteenthcenturies. This volume centres on the sources for the lives of mystics and saints, and the essayists attempt to separate the voices present in these sources, to distinguish the voice of the female saint from that ofher (usually) male hagiographer/biographer/correspondent. Bynum's 'Foreword' comments on the difficulties of the project, from the 'socially contructed' nature of sainthood (p. ix) to the complex relations of 'gender' and 'voice' (p. ix). Mooney'sfirstarticle is the only survey piece in the volume, and is primarily an overview of the other contributions. She retraces some of the intellectual history behind contemporary scholarship on medieval women's hagiography, rejecting the view that the texts in question tell virtually nothing about the experience of women, and are informative only as to the expectations and classifications ofmale ecclesiastics. Sources where the saint herselfhas written or 'managed to leave a discernible imprint within other texts' (p. 3) may be carefully mined for useful information. Barbara Newman's 'Hildegard and Her Hagiographers' argues for the importance ofthe Vita S. Hildegardis as hagiography as well as biography, and as the 'first and only vita that lets us compare a holy woman's self-portrait directly with male representations ofher' (p. 16). The article compares Hildegard's own modelling ofher literary persona and the Biblical heroes to which she compared herself, along with other aspects ofthe Vita, with those of Gottfried and Theodoric, finding interesting discrepancies and divergences. The next essay, Anne L. Clark's 'Holy W o m a n or Unworthy Vessel? The 202 Reviews Representations of Elisabeth of Schonau' investigates the relationship between Elisabeth and her brother and recorder of her visions, Ekbert. They were close, and she felt relief at his recording of her visions, yet she reveals that she withheld visionary material from him. He, in turn, gave her questions to take into her trances, and suppressed more controversial material. The dynamics of their relationship are well-analysed, and his contribution to Elisabeth's selfunderstanding is considered, but Clark's conclusion is that Elisabeth and Ekbert saw her role, and herself very differently. Mooney's second contribution, 'Imitatio Christi or Imitatio Mariael Cla of Assisi and Her Interpreters' examines the relationship between Clare and Francis, their writings, and the earliest vitae of both of them through the lens of imitatio. Mooney carefully exposes how Clare's understanding of herself as a follower and imitator of Christ was eroded by the early male Franciscan community which sought to separate itself from the female Order. Clare was presented as a follower of Mary by these male authors, probably to render her less challenging and to diminish the claims she made concerning her spiritual life: in her own writings this model is simply not there. John Coakley's 'A Marriage and Its Observer: Christine of Stommeln, the Heavenly Bridegroom, and Friar Peter of Dacia' focuses on the ways in which female saints exercised a fascination over their clerical codifiers. Peter of Dacia appears to have felt inadequate in his own attempts to achieve intimacy with Christ, and loved Christine for her success in achieving that intimacy and felt that he could participate in her mystical experiences. Frank Tobin's essay on the relationship between Henry Suso and Elsbefh Stagel explores some of the same territory, considering the extent to which Stagel was the co-author of Suso's spiritual autobiography. Karen Scott's 'Mystical Death, Bodily Death' explores the relationship between the dictated writings of Catherine of Siena and the writings about her by Raymond of Capua, her Dominican confessor...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 201-203
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.