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Title: Cultivating the heart : suffering and language in Ancrene Wisse, the Wooing Group, and the Katherine Group
Author: Lazikani, Ayoush
ISNI:       0000 0004 2747 4070
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis examines the language of pain/suffering in Ancrene Wisse, the Wooing Group, and the Katherine Group, arguing that the anchoress nourishes an acute but discriminating sensitivity to pain. It seeks to demonstrate that the anchoress uses these early Middle English texts to cultivate sophisticated affective stirrings. Chapter 1 foregrounds the multidimensional penitence in Ancrene Wisse, situated in the context of Latin and vernacular penitential and homiletic material. The anchoress’ penitential processes demand not only physical pain, but also affective pain and intensive cognitive processes of self-examination. Chapter 2 argues that the Wooing Group meditations are tools of pain-cultivation, which the anchoress uses to nurture her affective pain as she develops her intimacy with the Spousal Lamb and his Mother. Chapter 3 assesses imagery of physical and affective woundedness. This chapter examines the anchoress’ use of imagery of Christ’s wounds, sin-wounds, and penitential wounding in Ancrene Wisse and the Wooing Group, and then studies her use of the saints’ wounding in the Katherine Group. Chapter 4 contends that spectatorship and performance of suffering are not separable acts for the anchoress. The chapter assesses: the anchoress’ spectatorship in the Katherine Group hagiographies, a spectatorship based on defamiliarization; the anchoress’ participation with the pain of Christ in Ancrene Wisse and the Wooing Group, including an examination of her potential use of church wall paintings; and the female reader of Hali Meiðhad, who immerses herself in the suffering of a married and child-bearing woman. Chapter 5 examines the crucial affective phenomenon of compassion, arguing that compassion in Ancrene Wisse and the Wooing Group is not a distanced ‘pity’, but a complex ‘co-feeling’ (using Milan Kundera’s (1984) term). The thesis concludes by underscoring the fact that the anchoress’ painful existence is not pathological; it is an existence characterized by agency and emancipation.
Supervisor: Sutherland, Annie Sponsor: AHRC
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: English Language and Literature ; literature ; medieval spirituality