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RELI 0110 / ENAM 0110 Medieval English Mystics

Some of the most profound and extraordinary spiritual works of the middle ages  were written in England during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.  A combination of often horrifically troubled times, the desire for new forms of religion and a new immediacy of relation with God, and socio-economic and literary change contributed to the complex and fascinating picture; but these mystics were very remarkable individuals in their own right, and advocated very different approaches to Christian living and experience.  This course therefore exploresnot only of their writings, but also of the context in which they arose.

Sample Syllabus

  • Literary & Historical Contexts
  • Richard Rolle’s Fire of Love
  • Rolle’s English Writings and Wider Influence
  • The Cloud of Unknowing
  • Dionise Hid Divinite and Other Cloud-related Treatises
  • Walter Hilton, The Scale of Perfection
  • Julian of Norwich, A Revelation of Love
  • Margery Kempe and her Book


Introductory Reading

  • Watson, N., ‘The Middle English Mystics’, in Wallace, D. (ed.), The Cambridge History of Medieval English Literature.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999, pp. 539-65
  • Edwards, A.S.G. (ed.), A Companion to Middle English Prose. Cambridge, D.S. Brewer, 2004
  • Sutherland, A., ‘The Middle English Mystics’, in Lemon, R. et al. (eds), The Blackwell Companion to the Bible in English Literature. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009
  • Glasscoe, M. (ed.), The Medieval Mystical Tradition in England. Various publishers, 6 vols, 1980-99
  • Hudson, A. The Premature Reformation: Wycliffite Texts and Lollard History. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988
  • Windeatt, B. (ed.), English Mystics of the Middle Ages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007
You never know what you'll find
One afternoon, I left St. Michael's Hall with the desire for a cookie and thought I'd pick one up before heading back to the Bodleian. The shop around...
Gabrielle Linnell, Spring Semester 2012, Wellesley College