Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies

The Obfuscation of Bodily Sight in the Showings of Julian of Norwich

Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies (2014), 8, (1), 81–96.

Abstract

The article examines the ways in which the Showings of Julian of Norwich engages in medieval eucharistic discussions in order to deprivilege the importance of physical sight in lay participation in the Eucharist. Julian disempowers physical sight by intentionally obfuscating her discussion of bodily sight and by equalizing bodily and ghostly sight as modes of understanding God. Applying the framework of modern disability studies reveals that Julian's treatment of bodily sight has important consequences for the construction of blindness as disability in the Middle Ages. Because Julian works to de-emphasize the role of physical sight in lay participation in the Eucharist, she works against a central way in which blind people were disabled in the Middle Ages.

Access Token
£25.00

Bauerschmidt, Frederick Christian. Julian of Norwich and the Mystical Body Politic of Christ. Notre Dame, IN: U of Notre Dame P, 1999. Print. Julian of Norwich and the Mystical Body Politic of Christ Google Scholar

Duffy, Eamon. The Stripping of the Altars: Traditional Religion in England c. 1400-c. 1580. New Haven: Yale UP, 1992. Print. The Stripping of the Altars: Traditional Religion in England c. 1400-c. 1580 Google Scholar

Garrison, Jennifer Marie. "Resisting Identification: Eucharistic Theology in Middle English Literature." Diss. Rutgers, 2009. ProQuest. Web. 27 Nov. 2012. Google Scholar

Gillespie, Vincent, and Ross, Maggie. "The Apophatic Image: The Poetics of Effacement in Julian of Norwich." Medieval Mystical Tradition in England: Exeter Symposium, V. Papers Read at the Devon Center, Dartington Hall. Ed. Marion Glasscoe. Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1992. 53-77. Print. The Apophatic Image: The Poetics of Effacement in Julian of Norwich 53 77 Google Scholar

Julian of Norwich. The Showings of Julian of Norwich. Ed. Denise Baker. New York: W. W. Norton and Co., 2004. Print. The Showings of Julian of Norwich Google Scholar

Kamerick, Kathleen. Popular Piety and Art in the Late Middle Ages: Image Worship and Idolatry in England 1350-1500. New York: Palgrave, 2002. Print. Popular Piety and Art in the Late Middle Ages: Image Worship and Idolatry in England 1350-1500 Google Scholar

Kempe, Margery. The Book of Margery Kemp. Ed. Lynn Staley. New York: W. W. Norton and Co., 2000. Print. The Book of Margery Kemp Google Scholar

Krummel, Miriamne Ara. Crafting Jewishness in Medieval England: Legally Absent, Virtually Present. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011. Print. Crafting Jewishness in Medieval England: Legally Absent, Virtually Present Google Scholar

Magill, Kevin J. Julian of Norwich: Mystic or Visionary? New York: Routledge, 2006. Print. Julian of Norwich: Mystic or Visionary? Google Scholar

Molinari, Paul. Julian of Norwich: The Teaching of a 14th Century English Mystic. London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1958. Print. Julian of Norwich: The Teaching of a 14th Century English Mystic Google Scholar

Moore, R. I. The Formation of a Persecuting Society: Power and Deviance in Western Europe, 950-1250. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1987. Print. The Formation of a Persecuting Society: Power and Deviance in Western Europe, 950-1250 Google Scholar

Park, Tarjei. "Reflecting Christ: The Role of the Flesh in Walter Hilton and Julian of Norwich." Medieval Mystical Tradition in England: Exeter Symposium, V. Papers Read at the Devon Center, Dartington Hall. Ed. Marion Glasscoe. Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1992. 17-37. Print. Medieval Mystical Tradition in England: Exeter Symposium, V. Papers Read at the Devon Center, Dartington Hall 17 37 Google Scholar

Rubin, Miri. Corpus Christi: The Eucharist in Late Medieval Culture. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1991. Print. Corpus Christi: The Eucharist in Late Medieval Culture Google Scholar

Schor, Naomi. "Blindness as Metaphor." Differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies 11.2 (1999): 76-105. Project Muse. Web. 25 May 2012. Blindness as Metaphor Differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies 11 76 105 Google Scholar

Sutherland, Annie. "Julian of Norwich and the Liturgy." A Companion to Julian of Norwich. Ed. Liz Herbert McAvoy. Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2008. 88-98. Print. A Companion to Julian of Norwich 88 98 Google Scholar

Watson, Nicholas. "The Trinitarian Hermeneutic in Julian of Norwich's Revelation of Love." Julian of Norwich: A Book of Essays. Ed. Sandra J. McEntire. New York: Garland, 1998. 61-90. Print. Julian of Norwich: A Book of Essays 61 90 Google Scholar

Wheatley, Edward. Stumbling Blocks before the Blind: Medieval Constructions of a Disability. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 2010. Print. Stumbling Blocks before the Blind: Medieval Constructions of a Disability Google Scholar

If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

Details

Author details

Willits, Catherine