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postulant and a novice created the basis of the identity of women religious. It was a paradoxical identity, and in this chapter its meaning will be explored in various contexts. Postulants Fervent religious devotion, zeal for philanthropic activity and attraction to religious life were important precursors to successful active vocations. However, the existence of these attributes did not assure a woman entry into a congregation. The Roman Catholic Church listed various criteria for those entering religious life, the foremost being that they must lead ‘irrépréhensible

in Contested identities

The church as sacred space places the reader at the heart of medieval religious life, standing inside the church with the medieval laity in order to ask what the church meant to them and why. It examines the church as a building, idea, and community, and explores the ways in which the sanctity of the church was crucial to its place at the centre of lay devotion and parish life. At a time when the parish church was facing competition for lay attention, and dissenting movements such as Lollardy were challenging the relevance of the material church, the book examines what was at stake in discussions of sanctity and its manifestations. Exploring a range of Middle English literature alongside liturgy, architecture, and material culture, the book explores the ways in which the sanctity of the church was constructed and maintained for the edification of the laity. Drawing on a wide range of contemporary theoretical approaches, the book offers a reading of the church as continually produced and negotiated by the rituals, performances, and practices of its lay communities, who were constantly being asked to attend to its material form, visual decorations, and significance. The meaning of the church was a dominant question in late-medieval religious culture and this book provides an invaluable context for students and academics working on lay religious experience and canonical Middle English texts.

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objectives were clearly articulated in congregation constitutions which decreed that women religious laboured ‘for the salvation of souls’. As women religious, they were called to evangelise. Connecting these activities to their missionary identity is straightforward, but adding to their cache of identities a ‘professional identity’ can be, problematic and discomfiting. This difficulty is not associated solely with Catholic women religious. As Kathryn Gleadle observed in her work on nineteenth-century British women radicals and Unitarians, ‘Evangelical notions of women

in Contested identities
A conceptual history 1200–1900

This collection explores how concepts of intellectual or learning disability evolved from a range of influences, gradually developing from earlier and decidedly distinct concepts, including ‘idiocy’ and ‘folly’, which were themselves generated by very specific social and intellectual environments. With essays extending across legal, educational, literary, religious, philosophical, and psychiatric histories, this collection maintains a rigorous distinction between historical and contemporary concepts in demonstrating how intellectual disability and related notions were products of the prevailing social, cultural, and intellectual environments in which they took form, and themselves performed important functions within these environments. Focusing on British and European material from the middle ages to the late nineteenth century, this collection asks ‘How and why did these concepts form?’ ‘How did they connect with one another?’ and ‘What historical circumstances contributed to building these connections?’ While the emphasis is on conceptual history or a history of ideas, these essays also address the consequences of these defining forces for the people who found themselves enclosed by the shifting definitional field.

Place, space and discourse
Editors: Christine Agius and Dean Keep

Identity is often regarded as something that is possessed by individuals, states, and other agents. In this edited collection, identity is explored across a range of approaches and under-explored case studies with a view to making visible its fractured, contingent, and dynamic features. The book brings together themes of belonging and exclusion, identity formation and fragmentation. It also examines how identity functions in discourse, and the effects it produces, both materially and in ideational terms. Taking in case studies from Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Middle East and Latin America, the various chapters interrogate identity through formal governing mechanisms, popular culture and place. These studies demonstrate the complex and fluid nature of identity and identity practices, as well as implications for theorising identity.

religious congregations with diverse international memberships, sisters were expected to leave their national attachments behind them, but local circumstances and personal attachments often meant that this was difficult in reality. Europe and North America witnessed an explosion in the number of women religious during the nineteenth century and this was the result of sustained economic growth, legislative reform and ultramontanism. The pioneer institutes had inspired countless women to either join existing communities or to found new ones. This migration to the religious

in Creating a Scottish Church
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Being Irish in nineteenth-century Scotland and Canada

, 1847), also known as the Lorettos, and the Sisters of St Joseph (Toronto, 1851), founded from a French community in Philadelphia. What they all had in common was a primary focus on the education of girls and young women, despite undertaking other works of charity, such as nursing, dispensary provision and prison and poor house visitations when required. Teaching congregations like these were usually the first to be recruited into any mission and as a result played a more instructive role in the formation of religious culture. It is important to understand, however

in Women and Irish diaspora identities

because they wanted ‘something respectable to build’. 47 Clearly different groups within the lay community wanted different things from the Church. Congregations were also composed of people who were from various ethnic backgrounds and who had brought different religious cultures with them when they emigrated. Meeting the spiritual demands of these varied communities was a challenge for bishops and clergy who

in An Anglican British World
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Reformatory and industrial schools and twentieth-century Ireland

seminal event in the vindication of the human rights of survivors of child abuse in Irish Reformatory and Industrial Schools’ (Powell et al., 2013:7). The culmination of nine years of work, under two different chairs, the inquiry heard from 1,500 witnesses who had resided in various institutions for children between 1914 and 2000. It held a series of public hearings where politicians, civil servants, leaders of the religious congregations that managed the institutions, and other voluntary bodies gave evidence on their respective roles in maintaining the i

in Defining events
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the eschatological. ‘We need to pray to get out of this recession,’ Pastor Femi told the congregation. ‘It is only through prayer that Ireland will ever fully recover.’ While Pentecostalism has long been associated with individual transformation recent scholarship has also emphasised the imbrication of religious beliefs with work, politics and a variety of forms of activism. Moreover, as our research has already shown, Pentecostal beliefs in Ireland are active in enchanting local landscapes, reconfiguring local populations as souls in need of saving, and

in Integration in Ireland