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date: 26 February 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This article examines life writing in Middle English by focusing on Julian of Norwich’s Showings as well as Margaret Gascoigne’s copy of the book and the accompanying record of her contemplative experiences. It also looks at Gertrude More’s exposition of the contemplative life as taught by Father Augustine Baker, who took over the spiritual direction of the English Benedictine nuns in exile in Cambrai in 1624. It discusses how Julian re-embodies Christ’s suffering both in Showings and in her own body, and how the text sets up a chain of explicitly English reincarnations of Christ’s suffering. It also considers the close relationship between Middle English life writing and the forma vitae, a genre that is strongly associated with monastic life. In addition, the article analyzes Julian’s Showings, William Langland’s Piers Plowman, and Geoffrey Chaucer’s The House of Fame and Canterbury Tales as examples of Middle English (auto)biography and transubstantiation.

Keywords: life writing, Julian of Norwich, Showings, Christ, suffering, reincarnations, Piers Plowman, Geoffrey Chaucer, (auto)biography, transubstantiation

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