Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS: https://ethos.bl.uk/OrderDetails.do?uin=uk.bl.ethos.753388
Title: The art of arts : theorising pastoral power in the English Middle Ages
Author: Wolf, Johannes
ISNI:       0000 0004 7426 480X
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2018
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Abstract:
Gregory the Great described the government of souls as ‘the art of arts,’ a sentiment that the Fourth Lateran Council would echo in 1215. This thesis takes as its fundamental proposition that this ‘art’ can be understood as a ‘craft’, one that is responsible for producing and maintaining a Christian subjectivity marked by introspection, inwardness, and a strong distrust of externalities. Using a theoretical framework influenced by Michel Foucault I suggest a tradition of administering and producing these subjects through ‘pastoral power.’ Charting the trajectory of these ideas from the ascetics of the early church through to fifteenth-century Middle English texts, I explore the dynamics produced by texts invested in producing this specific form of subjectivity as they expand their reach from a specialised audience of monks to an increasingly laicised vernacular sphere. This investigation is broken into two halves. The thesis begins with a re-reading of Michel Foucault’s theories of power and subjection. Here I suggest that there are important conceptual connections between Foucault’s concept of ‘discipline’ and medieval approaches to the care of the soul. The first half of the thesis stresses the longue durée development of pastoral power, focussing on two particular historical moments. The first of these chapters engages with the pastoral and monastic thinkers of the early church, who developed two overlapping regimes – that of body and spirit. The second turns to the Ancrene Wisse, arguing that the it responds to the developments of twelfth-century spirituality by suggesting a form of spiritual engagement that is increasingly imbricated in the mundane world. The second half of the thesis focuses on a number of texts produced in Middle English during the fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries. Two chapters focus on a collection of pastoral texts produced in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. The first focuses on the hermeneutic dynamics of these texts whilst second chapter assesses the use of documentary imagery and theories of legal accountability in the same texts. The final chapter suggests that certain proto-autobiographical texts, represented by the work of Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe, are conditioned by the concerns and dynamics of pastoral power, which also affects the practices modern readers bring to bear on them.
Supervisor: Zeeman, Nicolette Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.753388  DOI:
Keywords: Medieval literature ; Michel Foucault ; Critical Theory ; History of Subjectivity ; Medieval religious literature
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