By Sarah Beckwith

On the very middle of Christian doctrine and past due medieval perform used to be just like the crucified Christ. Sarah Beckwith examines the social that means of this snapshot throughout a variety of key devotional English texts, utilizing insights from anthropology and cultural experiences. similar to the crucified Christ, she argues, acted as a spot the place the tensions among the sacred and the profane, the person and the collective, have been performed out. The medieval obsession with the contours of Christ's physique functioned to problem and remodel social and political family members. a desirable and not easy publication of curiosity not just to scholars of medieval literature, but additionally to cultural historians and women's experiences experts.

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Extra resources for Christ's Body: Identity, Culture and Society in Late Medieval Writings

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I wish to context these exempla, and allow them to say more than this initial and casual juxtaposition permits by placing them within the context of a more detailed analysis of the representation of Christ’s body in late medieval society. For it is only by understanding the context of those representations that we will be able to find a meaning for the extraordinary iconography of Christ’s body in late medieval devotional writings. Christ’s body then needs, as I outlined in chapter 1, to be brought back from its exile, for it is a key focus for the relationship between identity and the social structure for which it so often figures as an emblem.

Late medieval crucifixion piety is a curiously literal embodiment of a drama of exclusion and participation in that body. For affective piety is obsessed with belonging, with the fantasy of fusion and the bitter reality of separation, and so with the entrances to Christ’s body. 81 Historians of the late medieval period have frequently talked about the ‘privatization’ of piety, and linked that privatization with mysticism per se. 83 But in doing so they are making the automatic assumption that the realm of the ‘subjective’ and the realm of the ‘mystical’ are automatically asocial, and they are therefore in danger of making a very modern, postRomantic opposition between self and society.

4 It is a commonplace of late medieyal histories of spirituality that the late Middle Ages witness a new and extraordinary focus on the passion of Christ. ’5 Let us trace through in the broadest of outlines some of these developments. An incarnational aesthetic and practice was implicit in the very earliest stages of Christianity and Christian theology. ’6 It was by means of God’s incarnation in Christ, and Christ’s sharing of human flesh, that the ‘DYVERSE IMAGINACIOUNS OF CRYSTES LYF’ 45 legacy of the fall—irreparable separation between matter and spirit— could be atoned for and redeemed.

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