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  • Piety, Ritual, and Heresy: The Varieties of Medieval Religious Experience
  • Karen Ann Christianson

Due to a production error, volume 29 of Essays in Medieval Studies was released with the incorrect publication date of 2013 on the article title pages. The correct publication date is 2014.

The 2013 annual conference of the Illinois Medieval Association was held February 15 and 16 at the Newberry Library in Chicago and was cosponsored by the Newberry Center for Renaissance Studies. Its theme was “Piety, Ritual, and Heresy: The Varieties of Medieval Religious Experience.” Demonstrating the centrality of religion in the study of the Middle Ages, the call for papers drew more than a hundred submissions from scholars working in a wide variety of disciplines: history, art history, religious studies, cultural studies, book and manuscript studies, and the literatures of many languages. The essays in this volume reflect the diversity and innovation of papers presented at the conference.

The conference keynote speaker, Gary Macy, conducts a tightly argued exploration of whether women in early medieval Europe were in fact ordained as priests. Through analysis of the rites and activities associated with priesthood at the time, he concludes that until about the twelfth century many women indeed functioned as priests and were considered as such by their contemporaries, including bishops, councils, and popes.

The next two essays address the topic of miracles. Sarah Degner Riveros takes a fresh look at the Cantigas de Santa Maria, a collection of poems with musical notation written in the thirteenth century during the reign of Alfonso X of Castile, to examine the role and significance of child characters in miraculous occurrences described in the work. Christopher Maslanka explores the gendered nuances of the Life of St. Mary of Egypt as recounted in the Middle English South English Legendary, and the concept of penitence the story embodies, compared with other contemporary versions.

Melissa Moreton delves into the possible motivations for and meanings behind the array of colophons written by nun-scribes in several Italian monastic scriptoria during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Jessica Coope probes [End Page v] normative and alternative prescriptive models of the practice of Islam by women in medieval Muslim Spain, finding more complexity and flexibility than is commonly believed.

Erin Wagner’s essay scrutinizes the intersection of politics, religion, and heresy through three case studies of men convicted of heresy in fifteenth-century England, highlighting the possible dangers inherent even for those deferent to church authority during a time of theological and institutional challenges and the fears associated with them. In the final essay in this collection, Elizabeth Moodey performs a close reading and analysis of Jean Germain’s 1457 work, Le Chemin de Paradis, structured as an allegorical triumphal procession intended to be incorporated into a tapestry to provide a guide to religious practice, doctrine, and faith for the ministry and lay people alike.

As it has at its conferences each year since 1983, the 2013 Illinois Medieval Association gathering generated a profusion of new scholarship across diverse disciplines in the field of medieval studies and provided an opportunity for a robust exchange of ideas. The essays in this volume exemplify the vitality of the event. [End Page vi]



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