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Reading Medieval Anchoritism


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Table of Contents

Introduction The Origins of Anchoritism Introduction to Medieval Anchoritism Introduction to the Anchoritic Guidance Writing Genre PART ONE: ANCHORITIC SPIRITUALITY IN ISOLATION: THE ENGLISH ANCHORITIC GUIDES Chapter One: Introducing the Guides The Earlier-Medieval Guides The Later-Medieval Guides Chapter Two: Anchoritic Enclosure Permanent Fixity of Place The Purpose of Anchoritic Enclosure Anchoritic Enclosure and Living Death The Invisible Anchorhold Safeguarding Anchoritic Enclosure Chapter Three: Anchoritic Solitude and Sociability The Idealisation of Solitude Qualifying Solitude: Acceptable Anchoritic Interaction Safeguarding Solitude: Demonising Anchoritic Sociability Anchoritic Sociability and Chastity PART TWO: ANCHORITIC SPIRITUALITY IN CONTEXT: ENGLISH ANCHORITISM AND THE WIDER MEDIEVAL WORLD Chapter Four: Anchoritism and Asceticism The History of Asceticism Anchoritism and Earlier-Medieval Asceticism: Waging Ascetical War Anchoritism and Ascetical Discretion Anchoritism and Later-Medieval Asceticism: Sin-Hatred not Flesh-Hatred Purity without Pain: Ascetical Meditation Chapter Five: Anchoritism and Contemplative Experience The Vocabulary of Contemplation The Three Stages of Contemplation: Meditation, Vision, Fusion Anchoritic Contemplation and the Active/Contemplative Debate Anchoritic Contemplation and Contemplative Orthodoxy

About the Author

Dr Mari Hughes-Edwards is Senior Lecturer in English Literature at Edge Hill University


'In this impressive study, Dr. Hughes-Edwards writes a new history of medieval English anchoritism that rivals the work of Warren's landmark 'Anchorites and their Patrons in Medieval England'. She traces, patiently and sensitively, the evolution of four centuries of anchoritic ideology, placing it in the context of a wide range of rarely considered, but remarkably innovative, theological texts. The results are profound and surprising. No scholar of medieval anchoritism or indeed the history of medieval asceticism can afford to ignore this book'. Professor Robert J. Hasenfratz, University of Connecticut 'Mari Hughes-Edwards's 'Reading Medieval Anchoritism' is comprehensive, systematic and thorough. The first study to trace anchoritic ideology over four centuries, it shows that the goal of the anchorite was not extreme suffering and privation but heightened contemplative experience. It amasses important evidence that anchorites had a range of acceptable social functions and modifies scholarship's current, fundamental, image of anchoritic enclosure as merely social death.' Professor Derek Pearsall, University of York 'Mari Hughes-Edwards's 'Reading Medieval Anchoritism' is a thoughtful and well-researched study that will be of interest to all those working on the English anchoritic tradition'. Professor Bella Millett, University of Southampton

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