This essay traces the history of the “materialist movement” in medieval studies, working chronologically and thematically to provide a full context for the coedited volume as a whole. Having established the tradition, Bledsoe and Sauer tackle an expanded definition of materiality, one that includes voice and embodiment and sensory input, thereby centering not only objects, but also the many interactions of bodies and objects. This more complete vocabulary of materiality is applied to medieval Christianity, particularly reclusion and monasticism. Also providing an overview of the anchoritic vocation and major texts under consideration, including Ancrene Wisse, Bledsoe and Sauer engage with the principles underpinning their collected volume of essays and outline its connected themes and methodologies. Finally, the authors suggest several future directions for studies, including other possible extensions of materiality as well as additional geographical and cultural dimensions.


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pp. 1-15
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