Encountering The Book of Margery Kempe illuminates the capaciousness of Margery Kempe studies in the twenty-first century. Through multiple, probing ‘encounters’, this innovative collection of essays generates and inspires interdisciplinary, overlapping, supportive, disruptive, and exploratory theoretical and creative approaches to the Book, and is a valuable new critical companion.
Structured around four categories of encounter – textual, internal, external, and performative – the volume suggests particular thematic threads yet reveals the way in which The Book of Margery Kempe resists strict categorisation. The fundamental unruliness of the Book is a touchstone for the analyses in the volume’s chapters, which define and destabilise concepts such ‘autobiography’ or ‘feeling’, and communities of texts and people, both medieval and modern. The chapters, written by leading scholars in Margery Kempe studies, cover a broad range of approaches: theories of psychoanalysis, emotion, ecocriticism, autobiography, post-structuralism, and performance; and methodologies including the medical humanities, history of science, history of medieval women’s literary culture, digital humanities, literary criticism, oral history, the Global Middle Ages, archival discovery, and creative reimagining. Deliberately diverse, these encounters with the Book capture the necessary expanse that it demands. Topics include the intertextuality of the Book, particularly in Europe; Kempe’s position within a global context, both urban and rural; the historicity of her life and kin; the Book’s contested form as a ‘life’ textualised and memorialised; and its performative, collaborative mode.
Encounters are dynamic, but they always require negotiation and reciprocity. This volume examines how encountering Kempe and her Book is a multi-way process, and paves the way for future critical work.
context of the Global Middle Ages. Encountering The Book of Margery Kempe, then, offers a range of new critical approaches to Kempe and her Book which include literary analyses, theoretical applications, textual milieux, and historical discoveries that build on and develop the current state of the field. As dynamic encounters themselves – across time, text, theory, and mode – these multiple approaches facilitate an exchange which brings Kempe into conversation with modern and medieval worlds, and allows for a capacious
://opac.regesta-imperii.de ). Our geographical focus rests on what was, broadly speaking, the former western half of the Roman Empire. There are many ways of defining the geographical extent of what constitutes medieval history. All have claims to validity. In very recent years, for example, there has been a new and vocal call to study ‘the global Middle Ages’, expanding the scholarly remit of the medieval historian beyond Europe. In itself, that is a worthy and worthwhile enterprise, though how far it will prove to be more than an extended exercise in comparative history, given how profoundly
through a critical whiteness studies lens, as we analyse the function of gender and sexuality? We cannot discuss Margery Kempe's tears and noise without discussing her whiteness because, as she functions from this privileged norm, we can see how race, whiteness, gender, and sound function differently in different geographies and contexts. Margery Kempe, soundscapes, race, and the Global Middle Ages Margery Kempe has always been international, embodying a version of the Global Middle Ages before it was a field. If one reads Margery
medieval literature. It seems apparent that one of the reasons for this neglect is that these wandering texts are not perceived as belonging to a national literature, and for all of the advances made in the study of literature in recent decades, and all of the attempts to promulgate more inclusive approaches such as the increasingly popular field of ‘world literature’ and appeals to the global Middle Ages, the imagined boundaries of national literatures – and the academic departments that house them – still determine to a great extent how and why literature is studied
Chaucer (New York: Routledge, 1995), pp. 243–65. On links between Chaucer’s dream visions and a different insular tradition, see Jessica Jane Lockhart, ‘Everyday Wonders and Enigmatic Structures: Riddles from Symphosius to Chaucer’ (University of Toronto, PhD dissertation, 2017), esp. Chapter 3 . At a time when there is increasing interest in the ‘global Middle Ages’ and when scholarship is rightly continuing to emphasise Chaucer’s European connections (see, for instance, Turner, Chaucer: A European Life ), seeking to