Renegotiating the Body of the Text: Mechthild von Magdeburg's Terminology of the Sublime
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CitationAyanna, Amiri. 2008. Renegotiating the body of the text: Mechthild von Magdeburg's terminology of the sublime. Exemplaria: A Journal of Theory in Medieval and Renaissance Studies 20(4): 385–409.
AbstractMechthild von Magdeburg’s Das fliessende Licht der Gottheit is a text that celebrates the female body and imbues it with narrative, semiotic, and spiritual signiﬁ cance. In contrast to arguments that the narrative goal of Mechthild’s book is to overcome physicality in order to allow a full embrace of spirituality, the article posits that the body is itself a narrative device that exposes a pleasant tension between the physical and the spiritual without prioritizing one over the other. Mechthild’s visions of the Virgin Mary as exuding a sensual and multidirectional femininity that also represents a powerful spiritual force, particularly with respect to the breast and breast-feeding, evidences this positive valuation of the body as well as subverts contemporary perceptions of female flesh and perviousness. The article also explores the complex relationship between the allegorized Body and Soul in book I, as well as the Kristevan processes of abjection, jouissance, and sublimation as they apply to the text, ultimately considering the rewards to be gained through the very process of reading encouraged by Mechthild’s coded text and her sublimation of language itself.
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