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Gothic and the perverse father of queer enjoyment
Dale Townshend

: Some time after, a young novice entered the convent. From the moment he did so, a change the most striking took place in the young monk. He and the novice became inseparable companions – there was something suspicious in that. My eyes were on the watch in a moment. Eyes are particularly sharpened in discovering misery when they can hope to aggravate it

in Queering the Gothic
Living spirituality

Between 1598 and 1800, an estimated 3, 271 Catholic women left England to enter convents on the Continent. This study focuses more particularly upon those who became Benedictines in the seventeenth century, choosing exile in order to pursue their vocation for an enclosed life. Through the study of a wide variety of original manuscripts, including chronicles, death notices, clerical instructions, texts of spiritual guidance, but also the nuns’ own collections of notes, this book highlights the tensions between the contemplative ideal and the nuns’ personal experiences. Its first four chapters adopt a traditional historical approach to illustrate the tensions between theory and practice in the ideal of being dead to the world. They offer a prosopographical study of Benedictine convents in exile, and show how those houses were both cut-off and enclosed yet very much in touch with the religious and political developments at home. The next fur chapters propose a different point of entry into the history of nuns, with a study of emotions and the senses in the cloister, delving into the textual analysis of the nuns’ personal and communal documents to explore aspect of a lived spirituality, when the body, which so often hindered the spirit, at times enabled spiritual experience.

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Rhe conversion of Venetian convent architecture and identity
Saundra Weddle

D espite their institutional significance, Venice’s early modern convents were among the city’s more ordinary religious structures. Like monumental religious buildings, convent complexes relied upon architectural features such as enclosing walls to make their function apparent, producing associations with and for their inhabitants and imparting meaning to local sites. But

in Conversions
James E. Kelly

8 English women religious, the exile male colleges and national identities in  ­Counter-Reformation Europe James E. Kelly In 1598, the first English convent was established in Brussels and was to be followed by a further twenty-one establishments across Flanders and France with around four thousand women entering them over the following two hundred years. Most were enclosed convents, in theory cut off from the outside world. However, in practice the nuns were not isolated and their contacts and networks spread widely. These contacts included other Catholic exile

in College communities abroad
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How did laywomen become nuns in the early modern world?
Elizabeth A. Lehfeldt

‘T he maiden that shall be made nun.’ 1 This medieval description of a novice on the brink of her profession ceremony is simple and yet profound. It highlights the point at which a young woman, after her novitiate, announced her intentions to become a full member of the convent community. At the same time it obscures or at least elides the dramatic transformation that

in Conversions
Carmen M. Mangion

perhaps even lived in some convents, but as congregations grew, the more useful tool used to assimilate a disparate group of women was a corporate identity. This corporate identity, inter-weaved with the family discourse, was often idealised but women religious acknowledged the tensions inherent in communal living. While this corporate identity legitimated and empowered women religious, it also restricted their actions and created artificial boundaries through the institutionalisation of religious 8 Ibid, p. 101. 9 Claudia Nelson and Ann Sumner Holmes, ‘Introduction

in Contested identities
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Laurence Lux-Sterritt

Benedictines of Ghent and Brussels, as we have seen, saw visitors at their gates more often than did those at Cambrai or Paris. The history of convents continues to question the concept of enclosure, and it shows that early modern female communities, despite their religious ideals of abstraction from the world, often existed in the liminal space between the inside and the outside. Early modern convents also stood at the intersection of national and international identities. English convents, like their Conti248 MUP_Lux_Sterritt_Revised.indd 248 04/01/2017 14:50 CONCLUSION

in English Benedictine nuns in exile in the seventeenth century
Laurence Lux-Sterritt

2 • When spiritual and secular families overlap Entering an enclosed convent was no small decision. The women who became Benedictines must accept the prospect of being cloistered for the rest of their lives, and of taking perpetual vows which would bind them eternally to the Order, without the possibility of returning to their loved ones at home. The Rule of St Benedict declared that once she entered the novitiate, a woman ‘may never depart from the Monastery nor may withdraw her neeke from the yoake of the Rule’.1 Such a decision should be based upon a firm

in English Benedictine nuns in exile in the seventeenth century
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Laurence Lux-Sterritt

could have been anticipated, particularly in terms of historical heritage. Until relatively recently, early modern contemplative nuns were all but absent from the pages of European history; moreover, the research that did exist implied – more or less explicitly – that the active endeavours of the Counter-Reformation held more intrinsic interest than cloistered forms of Catholic life in the seventeenth century. Excellent studies existed on mediaeval nunneries, but not much had been published on early modern convents, which were deemed to have little to offer.2 It was

in English Benedictine nuns in exile in the seventeenth century
Laurence Lux-Sterritt

spiritual comforts enjoyed by their Continental neighbours, despite all the best efforts of the mission. As exiles abroad, they were also a minority which did not benefit from long-established local support and for whom the necessary steps to obtain legal authorisations, licences or funding were by definition quite complicated. As a consequence, English convents relied both on the support of the most significant Catholic families in England and on the new networks they developed in the towns in which 77 MUP_Lux_Sterritt_Revised.indd 77 04/01/2017 14:50 ENGLISH

in English Benedictine nuns in exile in the seventeenth century