Caroline Walker Bynum Bibliography Page

Curriculum Vitae, 2000


Caroline Walker BynumBorn:May 10, 1941

Marital Status: married



Address (home):(office):

410 Riverside Dr., #101Department of History

New York, New York 10025Fayerweather Hall 611

(212) 865-7081 (home phone)Columbia University

New York, New York 10027

(212) 854-2414 or 4646


Education and Degrees:

Henry Grady High School, Atlanta, GA.1954-58

Radcliffe College   1958-60

University of Michigan: B.A. (with high honors) 1960-62

Harvard University: M.A. 1963; Ph.D. 19691962-69

University of Chicago: Doctor of Letters h.c.l992

Colgate University; and Northwestern University:Doctor of Letters h.c.l996

General Theological Seminary in New York: Doctor of Divinity h.c.              l996

Southern Methodist University: Doctor of Letters h.c.               1997

Wesleyan University: Doctor of Letters h.c.1998

University of Toronto: Doctor of Letters h.c. 1999


Teaching and University Positions:

Assistant Prof., History Dept., Harvard University, 1969-73

Assistant Prof., Dept. of Church History, Harvard Divinity School, 1973-74; Assoc. Prof., 1974-76

Assoc. Prof., History Dept., University of Washington, 1976-81

Professor of History, University of Washington, 1981-1988(also adjunct professor in Religious Studies and Women's Studies)

Professor of History, Columbia University, 1988- 1999; holder of Morris A. and Alma

Schapiro Chair in History, l990-99

Dean of the School of General Studies and Associate Vice President of Arts and Sciences

for Undergraduate Education, l993-94

University Professor, 1999- present


Fellowships, Awards, and Honors:

Woodrow Wilson Fellow, 1962-63

American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship, Sept., 1978 to March, 1979

Distinguished Teacher Award, University of Washington, 1981

N.E.H. Fellowship for Independent Study and Research, 1983-84

Fellow, Bunting Institute of Radcliffe College, 1983-84

Solomon Katz Distinguished Lecturer in the Humanities, U.W. Winter Quarter, 1984

Berkshire Prize for Best Historical Article Written by a Woman, 1985, for "Women Mystics...."

President, Medieval Association of the Pacific, 1986-88

MacArthur Fellow, July, 1986 - July, 1991

Nelson Prize for best article, awarded by the Renaissance Society of America, 1987, for

"The Body of Christ...."

Senior Scholar, The Getty Center for the Arts and Humanities, 1987-88

Governor's Award of the State of Washington, May, l988, for Holy Feast, Holy Fast

Fellow, Medieval Academy of America, elected l989

Philip Schaff prize of the ASCH/AHA for the best book in any field of Church History by an American, l989, for Holy Feast, Holy Fast

Honorary member Phi Beta Kappa, New York Delta Chapter, elected December, l991

President of American Catholic Historical Association, elected l993

Trilling Prize for the Best Book by a Columbia Faculty Member, l992, for Fragmentation and Redemption

Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, awarded by the University of Chicago, l992

Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion: Analytical-Descriptive Category, for

Fragmentation and Redemption, given by the American Academy of Religion,


Member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, elected l993

Fellow, Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, l994-95

President, The American Historical Association, l996

Vice-President and President, Medieval Academy of America, l996-l998

Member, American Philosophical Society, elected 1995

Ralph Waldo Emerson Prize of Phi Beta Kappa given for the best book of the year on

"the intellectual and cultural condition of man," December, l995, for

The Resurrection of the Body

Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, awarded by Colgate University, l996

Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, awarded by Northwestern University, l996

Honorary Doctor of Divinity, awarded by General Theological Seminary, l996

Jacques Barzun Prize for the best work in cultural history, given by the American

Philosophical Society for The Resurrection of the Body, November, l996

Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, awarded by Southern Methodist University, l997

Presidential Award for Outstanding Teaching, Columbia University, May, l997

Honorary Doctor of Letters, awarded by Wesleyan University, May, l998

Jefferson Lecturer in the Humanities, Chosen by NEH, March, 1999

Honorary Doctor of Letters, awarded by the University of Toronto, 1999

Warburg Professor, Aby Warburg Stiftung, Hamburg, Germany, January-June, 2000


Professional Memberships:

American Historical Association

Medieval Academy of America

American Society of Church History

American Catholic Historical Association

American Academy of Religion

Hagiography Society

Berkshire Conference of Women Historians

Society for Values in Higher Education (elected, 1977)

American Society for the Study of Religion (elected, 1986)

Renaissance Society of America

Medieval Club of New York

American Academy of Arts and Sciences (elected, l993)

American Philosophical Society (elected, l995)


Professional Service:

Co-Chair, Committee on the Status of Women at Harvard, 1970-71

Co-Author (with M. Walzer), The Status of Women in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard, 1972

Member of Board of Editors, Harvard Theological Review, 1973-76

Co-Editor, Harvard Dissertations in Religion, 1974-76

Member of Board of Editors, Women's Studies:An Inter-Disciplinary Journal, 1973-1985

Chairperson, Program Committee, for the 1979 meeting of the Pacific Coast Branch of the American Historical Association

Chair, Elliott Prize Committee, Medieval Academy of America, 1981

Chair, Faculty Seminar on Religion and Gender, University of Washington, 1981-83

Member, Council, Medieval Academy of America, 1983-86; member, Planning Committee for Future of the Academy, 1983-84

Member, Council, Medieval Association of the Pacific, 1977-80; Vice-President, 1984-86; President, 1986-88

Member, Council, Pacific Coast Branch of American Historical Association, 1985-87

Member, Executive Committee, American Society of Church History, 1978-81; Research Committee, 1985-87

Member of Board of Editors, Genders:A Journal of Gender and Society, l988-l992

Member, Professional Division, American Historical Association, l988-1990

Member, Executive Committee, American Society for the Study of Religion, l989-91

Organizer, Workshop on Medieval Religious Women in Honor of Mary Martin McLaughlin, Barnard/Columbia, February 23, l991

Member, Governing Board, Society of Fellows, Columbia University, l990-l993

Member, Board of Editors, Regents Studies in Medieval Culture, University of Nebraska Press; new series under title Stylus, University of Michigan Press (general editor, Eugene Vance), l990-1999

Consultant for Medieval History to the new edition of The Columbia Encyclopedia, l990-94

Member, Board of Editors, Columbia Records of Civilization, new series; Columbia University Press, l989-present

Member, Board of Editors, Common Knowledge, l991-1999

Acting Chair, Interdisciplinary Committee on Medieval and Renaissance Studies,

Columbia University, fall, l991

Chair, Women's History Series, Institute for Research on Women and Gender, Columbia,


Vice-President, American Catholic Historical Association, l992-93; President, l993-94

Member, Board of Editors, Magistra (formerly Vox Benedictina), l990-present

Member, Board of Editors, Encyclopedia of Women in World Religions (general editor,

Serinity Young), Simon and Schuster, l993-1994

Member, Board of Trustees, National Humanities Center, Research Triangle, North

Carolina, l993-1999

Member, Board of Editors, Journal of the American Academy of Religion, l994-present

Co-Chair, Committee on Undergraduate Education, Columbia University, l993-94

Author, Report on Reforming the Major at Columbia University, l994

President, American Historical Association, l996

Vice-President, Medieval Academy of America, l996-97; President, l997-98

Member, Board of Editors, History of Religions, l997-present

Member, Board of Editors, Journal of Marian Studies, l997-present

Member, Board of Editors, Church History, l997-present

Member, Fellowship Selection Committee, Yad-Hanadiv Foundation, Jerusalem, Israel,


Chair, Advisory Committee to Dean Drew Faust, The Radcliffe Institute

for Advanced Study, 2000



I have taught all aspects of late antique and medieval history (political, military, social, economic, religious, intellectual, etc.); Church history from the early church through the Reformation; intellectual history from Plato to the seventeenth century.I have lectured to large groups of undergraduates (my church history survey at Harvard Divinity had 125 enrolled my last quarter there and at UW my survey course on the Middle Ages regularly enrolled 80-90) and have offered tutorials to small groups of honors undergraduates.I have contributed to the continuing education programs at the University of Washington and at Columbia (especially to Columbia's Master of Arts in Liberal Studies program).I have taught professional students training for ministry and have done extensive work in research seminars with Harvard University, Columbia University, and University of Washington graduate students in History, Art History, Comparative Literature, Women's Studies, and Religion.At present, I am the sponsor of dissertations in the departments of History, Art History and English and Comparative Literature.



Current Research:

Connected to the work I have been doing for the past ten years on the history of the body, I am at the moment beginning a new project concerning attitudes toward change and identity(both biological and psychological/spiritual) in the second half of the twelfth century.I am considering (among other matters) eucharistic theology, hexameral literature, poetic accounts of "nature," certain especially "bodily" miracles, other-world journeys, Ovidian poetry, commentaries on Aristotle's Generation and Corruption, and alchemy.






Docere Verbo et Exemplo:An Aspect of Twelfth-Century Spirituality, Harvard Theological Monographs (Missoula, Montana: Scholars Press, 1979).


Jesus as Mother:Studies in the Spirituality of the High Middle Ages (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1982).


Holy Feast and Holy Fast:The Religious Significance of Food to Medieval Women (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1987)(awarded Governor's award of the State of Washington in l988 and the Philip Schaff prize of the American Society for Church History in l989).A French translation appeared in l994 from Editions du Cerf under the title Jeûnes et festins sacrés: les femmes et la nourriture dans la spiritualité médiévale.


Fragmentation and Redemption: Essays on Gender and the Human Body in Medieval Religion(New York: Zone Books, l991) (awarded the Trilling Prize in l992 and the AAR Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion: Analytical-Descriptive Category, l992).A German translation appeared in February, l996, from Suhrkamp under the title Fragmentierung und Erlösung.


The Resurrection of the Body in Western Christianity, 200-1336 (New York: Columbia University Press, l995) (awarded Phi Beta Kappa Emerson prize for best book on "the intellectual and cultural condition of man," l995, and the Jacques Barzun prize of the American Philosophical Society for the best book in cultural history, l996).


Metamorphosis and Identity (New York: Zone Books, 2001), to appear.



Editions and Edited Volumes:


A Select Bibliography of History, 3rd ed., ed. Caroline W. Bynum et al. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Henry Adams History Club, History Dept., Harvard University, l966).


Statuta Casinensia (Saec. (XIII-XIV) (an edition of custumals of Monte Cassino with introduction, done in collaboration with T. Leccisotti), in Corpus Consuetudinum Monasticarum, vol. 4 (Siegburg: Francis Schmitt, 1972), 191-258.


Gender and Religion:On the Complexity of Symbols, ed. Caroline Bynum, Stevan Harrell, and Paula Richman, introduction by C. Bynum (Boston: Beacon Press, 1986).


Body-Part Reliquaries, ed. Caroline Bynum and Paula Gerson, Gesta 36.1 (l997), special issue.


Last Things: Death and the Apocalypse in the Middle Ages, ed. Caroline Walker Bynum and Paul Freedman (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000).




"Stephen of Paris and his Commentary on the Benedictine Rule,"Revue bénédictine 81 (1971), 67-91.


"The Spirituality of Regular Canons in the Twelfth Century:A New Approach," Mediaevalia et Humanistica, new series 4 (1973), 3-24.


"The Cistercian Conception of Community:An Aspect of Twelfth-Century Spirituality," Harvard Theological Review 68.3/4 (1975), 273-286.


"Jesus as Mother and Abbot as Mother:Some Themes in Twelfth-Century Cistercian Writing," Harvard Theological Review 70.3/4 (1977), 257-284.


"Did the Twelfth Century Discover the Individual?"Journal of Ecclesiastical History 31 (1980), 1-17.


"Maternal Imagery in Twelfth-Century Cistercian Writing," in Noble Piety and Reformed Monasticism, Studies in Medieval Cistercian History, 7, Cistercian Studies Series, 65 (Kalamazoo, Michigan: Cistercian Publications, 1981), 68-80.


"Women Mystics and Eucharistic Devotion in the Thirteenth Century," Women's Studies 11 (1984), 179-214 (awarded Berkshire Prize for 1985).


"Women's Stories, Women's Symbols:A Critique of Victor Turner's Theory of Liminality," in Anthropology and the Study of Religion, ed. Frank Reynolds and Robert Moore (Chicago, Illinois: Center for the Scientific Study of Religion, 1984), 105-125.


"Fast, Feast and Flesh:The Religious Significance of Food to Medieval Women," Representations 11 (Summer, 1985), pp. 1-25.[Excerpt reprinted in Richard Golden, ed., The Social History of Western Civilization, vol. 1 (New York:St. Martin's Press, 1987).]


"Disease and Death in the Middle Ages," review article, Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry 8 (1985), pp. 97-102.


" '...And Woman His Humanity':Gender Imagery in the Religious Writing of The Later Middle Ages," in Gender and Religion, ed. Caroline Bynum, Stevan Harrell and Paula Richman (l986).


"The Complexity of Symbols," in Gender and Religion, ed. C. Bynum, S. Harrell and P. Richman.


"The Body of Christ in the Later Middle Ages:A Reply to Leo Steinberg," Renaissance Quarterly 39.3 (Autumn, 1986), pp. 399-439 (awarded the Nelson prize for 1986).


"Religious Women in the Later Middle Ages," World Spirituality: An Encyclopedic History of the Religious Quest, vol. 17: Christian Spirituality: High Middle Ages and Reformation, ed. Jill Raitt (New York:Crossroad, l987), pp. 121-139.


"Mystik und Askese im Leben mittelalterlicher Frauen: Einige Bemerkungen zu den Typologien von Max Weber und Ernst Troeltsch," in Max Webers Sicht des okzidentalen Christentums: Interpretation und Kritik, ed. Wolfgang Schluchter (Frankfurt:Suhrkamp, 1988), pp. 355-382.


"Holy Anorexia in Modern Portugal," review article, Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry 12 (l988), pp. 259-268.


"The Female Body and Religious Practice in the Later Middle Ages," Zone 3: Fragments for a History of the Body, 1 (l989), pp. 160-219. [Appeared in Italian tr. in Donne e Fede: Santita e Vita Religiosa in Italia, ed. L. Scaraffia and G. Zarri (Rome and Bari: La Terza, l994), pp. 115-56.]


"Preface,"Hildegard of Bingen: Scivias, ed. and tr. Mother Columba Hart and Dr. Jane Bishop, Classics of Western Spirituality (New York: Paulist Press, l990).


"Bodily Miracles and the Resurrection of the Body in the High Middle Ages," in Belief in History, ed. Thomas Kselman (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, l991), pp. 68-106. [Excerpt reprinted in French tr. in L'Ane: Le Magazin Freudien 56 (l993), 39-41.]


"Material Continuity, Personal Survival, and the Resurrection of the Body: A Scholastic Discussion in its Medieval and Modern Contexts," History of Religions 30.1 (August, l990), pp. 51-82.


Review article on Michael Camille's The Gothic Idol, in The Art Bulletin 72.2 (June, l990), pp. 331-332.


"Writing Body History:Some Historiographical and Autobiographical Reflections," Disability Studies Quarterly (April, l992), pp. 14-17.


"Images of the Resurrection Body in the Theology of Late Antiquity," Catholic Historical Review 80.2 (April, l994), pp. 215-37.


"Faith Imagining the Self: Somatomorphic Soul and Resurrection Body in Dante's Divine Comedy," in Faithful Imagining: Essays in Honor of Richard R. Niebuhr, ed. Sang Hyun Lee, Wayne Proudfoot, and Albert Blackwell (Atlanta, Ga.: Scholar's Press, l995), pp. 83-106.


"Why All the Fuss About the Body?A Medievalist's Perspective,"Critical Inquiry 22 (Autumn, l995), pp. 1-33.[German version appeared inHistorische Anthropologie: Kultur, Gesellschaft, Alltag, 4.1 (1996), pp. 1-34; English version reprinted in Victoria Bonnell and Lynn Hunt, ed., After the Cultural Turn (University of California Press, 1999) ].


"The Last Eurocentric Generation," Perspectives 34.2 (February, l996), pp. 3-4.


[with Roger Adelson], "Interview with Caroline Walker Bynum," The Historian 59.1 (Fall, l996), pp. 1-17.


"Wonder," The American Historical Review 102.1 (February, l997), pp. 1-26.


[with Paula Gerson], "Body-Part Reliquaries and Body Parts in the Middle Ages," in Body-Part Reliquaries, ed. Caroline Bynum and Paula Gerson, Gesta 36.1 (l997), pp. 3-7.


"Mechtild of Magdeburg," The Encyclopedia of Women and World Religions, ed. Serinity Young, 2 vols. (New York: Macmillan, 1999), 2: 638-39.

"Death and Resurrection in the Middle Ages," Proceedings of theAmerican Philosophical Society 142.4 (l998), pp. 589-96.


"Metamorphosis, or Gerald and the Werewolf," Speculum 73 (October, l998), pp. 987-1013.


"Foreword," in Gendered Voices: Medieval Saints and Their Interpreters, ed. Catherine M. Mooney (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, l999).


"Miracles and Marvels: The Limits of Alterity," in Vita Religiosa im Mittelalter: Festschrift für Kaspar Elm zum 70. Geburtstag (Berlin, 1999), pp. 799-817.


[with Paul Freedman] "Introduction," to Last Things: Eschatology and Apocalypse in the Middle Ages, ed. Caroline Bynum and Paul Freedman (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000).


“Das Blut und die Körper Christi im Mittelalter: Eine Asymmetrie,” Vorträge aus dem Warburg Haus,to appear.



Book Reviews:


review of Avicenna Latinus, Liber De Anima seu Sextus de naturalibus, IV - V.Edition critique...(Leiden:E. J. Brill, 1968) in Speculum, 45 (1970), 266-67.


review of James E. Biechler, The Religious Language of Nicholas of Cusa (Missoula, Montana: Scholars Press and the American Academy of Religion, 1975) in The American Historical Review, 81 (1976), p. 1091.


review of Gerhard Bauer, Claustrum Animae: Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der Metaphor vom Herzen als Kloster I: Entstehungsgeschichte (Munich: Wilhelm Fink, 1973) in Speculum, 51 (1976), 713-14.


review of E. Randolph Daniel, The Franciscan Concept of Mission in the High Middle Ages (Lexington:University Press of Kentucky, 1975) and David L. Jeffrey, The Early English Lyric and Franciscan Spirituality (Lincoln:University of Nebraska Press, 1975) in Medievalia et Humanistica, n.s. no. 7 (1976), 195-97.


review of André Vauchez, La Spiritualité du moyen âge occidental, VIIIe-XIIe siècles (Paris:Presses Universitaires de France, 1975) in Speculum, 52 (1977), 1064-66.


review of Poverty in the Middle Ages, ed. David Flood (Werl, Westphalia:Dietrich-Coelde-Verlag, 1975) in The Catholic Historical Review, 64 (1978), 297-98.


review of Lester K. Little, Religious Poverty and the Profit Economy in Medieval Europe (Ithaca, N.Y.:Cornell University Press, 1979) in The Journal of Religion, 60 (1980), 347-49.


review of A Book of Showings to the Anchoress Julian of Norwich, ed. Edmund Colledge, O.S.A. and James Walsh, S.J. (Toronto:Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1978) in Church History, 49 (1980), 455-56.


review of Hildegard of Bingen, Scivias, ed. Adelgundis Führkötter, O.S.B., with Angela Carlevaris, O.S.B.(Turnhout, Belgium:Brepols, 1978) in Speculum, 55 (1980), 794-95.


review of Jean Leclercq, Monks and Love in Twelfth-Century France:Psycho-Historical Essays (Oxford:Clarendon Press; New York:Oxford University Press, 1979) in Speculum, 55 (1980), 595-97.


review of Assistance et charité, Cahiers de Fanjeaux, Collection d'histoire religieuse du Languedoc au XIIIe et au debut du XIVe siècles, 13 (Toulouse: Edouard Privat, 1978) in Speculum, 55 (1980), 92-94.


review of Joseph H. Lynch, Simoniacal Entry into Religious Life, 1000 to 1260:A Social, Economic and Legal Study (Columbus:Ohio State University Press, 1976) in The Virginia Seminary Journal, 32 (1980), 40.


review of Alexander Murray, Reason and Society in the Middle Ages (Oxford:Clarendon Press, 1978) in The Journal of Religion, 61 (1981), 453-54.


review of Jeffrey Richards, Consul of God:The Life and Times of Gregory The Great (London:Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1980) in Church History, 51 (1982) 214-15.


review of RB 1980:the Rule of St. Benedict in Latin and English with Notes, ed. Timothy Fry et al.(Collegeville, Minnesota:Liturgical Press, 1981) in Speculum, 57 (1982), 607-609.


review of Marina Warner, Joan of Arc:The Image of Female Heroism (New York:

Alfred A. Knopf, 1981) in Church History, 52 (1983), 208-209.


review of F. E. Peters, Children of Abraham:Judaism, Christianity, Islam (Princeton, 1982), in Middle East Studies Association Bulletin, 17. 1 (July, 1983), 98-99.


review of Peter Brown, Society and the Holy in Late Antiquity (Berkeley, California:University of California Press, 1982) in Church History, 53 (1984), 83-84.


review of Donald Weinstein and Rudolph M. Bell, Saints and Society:The Two Worlds of Western Christendom, 1000-1700 (Chicago:The University of Chicago Press, 1983),in Speculum, 59 (1984), 457-460.


review of G. R. Evans, The Mind of St. Bernard of Clairvaux (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1983), in Church History, 54 (1985), 98-99.


review of Dictionary of the Middle Ages, ed. Joseph R. Strayer, vols. 1-4 (New York:Charles Scribner's Sons, 1982-84), in Middle East Studies Association Bulletin, 18.2 (December, 1984), 255-57.


review of Michael Goodich, Vita Perfecta:The Ideal of Sainthood inthe Thirteenth Century (Stuttgart:Anton Hiersemann, 1982), in Mystics Quarterly, 13.1 (March, 1987), 40-41.


review of Brenda Bolton, The Medieval Reformation (London:Edward Arnold, 1983), in The Catholic Historical Review (January, l987) 142-43.


review of Peter Dronke, Women Writers of the Middle Ages: A CriticalStudy of Texts from Perpetua (+203) to Marguerite Porete (+1310) (Cambridge:Cambridge University Press, 1984), in Modern Language Quarterly, 46 (1985), 326-29.


review of Jaroslav Pelikan, Jesus Through the Centuries:His Place inthe History of Culture (New Haven:Yale University Press, 1985), in Speculum, 61 (October, l986), 982-84.


review of Peter Dinzelbacher and D. Bauer, eds., Frauenmystik imMittelalter (Ostfildern:Schwabenverlag, 1985), in The Catholic Historical Review (April, 1987), 318-319.


review of David Flusser, Jaroslav Pelikan and Justin Lang, Mary:Images of the Mother of Jesus in Jewish and Christian Perspective (Philadelphia:Fortress Press, 1986), in Church History, 57 (March, l988), p. 118.


review of Paul Lachance, The Spiritual Journey of the Blessed Angela of Foligno According to the Memorial of Frater A.(Rome: Pontificium Atheneaum Antonianum, l984), in Church History, 57 (September, l988), pp. 359-60.


review of Gillian Evans and Jean Leclercq, ed. and trans., Bernard of Clairvaux: Selected Works, The Classics of Western Spirituality (New York: Paulist Press, l987), in The Virginia Seminary Journal 41.1 (February, l989), pp. 45-46.


review of James A. Brundage, Law, Sex and Christian Society in Medieval Europe (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, l987), in Journal of Religion 69 (l989), pp. 402-403.


review of Piero Camporesi, The Incorruptible Flesh: Bodily Mutation and Mortification in Religion and Folklore, tr. T. Croft-Murray and H. Elsom (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, l988), in The American Historical Review 94.5 (December, l989), p. 1334.


review of Peter Dinzelbacher and D. R. Bauer, eds., Religiöse Frauenbewegung und mystische Frömmigkeit im Mittelalter (Cologne and Vienna: Böhlau, l988), in The Catholic Historical Review 76 (l990), p. 121.


review of Grace M. Jantzen, Julian of Norwich: Mystic and Theologian (New York and Mahwah, N.J.: Paulist Press, l988), in

Book Description:

In the period between 1200 and 1500 in western Europe, a number of religious women gained widespread veneration and even canonization as saints for their extraordinary devotion to the Christian eucharist, supernatural multiplications of food and drink, and miracles of bodily manipulation, including stigmata and inedia (living without eating). The occurrence of such phenomena sheds much light on the nature of medieval society and medieval religion. It also forms a chapter in the history of women. Previous scholars have occasionally noted the various phenomena in isolation from each other and have sometimes applied modern medical or psychological theories to them. Using materials based on saints' lives and the religious and mystical writings of medieval women and men, Caroline Walker Bynum uncovers the pattern lying behind these aspects of women's religiosity and behind the fascination men and women felt for such miracles and devotional practices. She argues that food lies at the heart of much of women's piety. Women renounced ordinary food through fasting in order to prepare for receiving extraordinary food in the eucharist. They also offered themselves as food in miracles of feeding and bodily manipulation. Providing both functionalist and phenomenological explanations, Bynum explores the ways in which food practices enabled women to exert control within the family and to define their religious vocations. She also describes what women meant by seeing their own bodies and God's body as food and what men meant when they too associated women with food and flesh. The author's interpretation of women's piety offers a new view of the nature of medieval asceticism and, drawing upon both anthropology and feminist theory, she illuminates the distinctive features of women's use of symbols. Rejecting presentist interpretations of women as exploited or masochistic, she shows the power and creativity of women's writing and women's lives.

eISBN: 978-0-520-90878-9

Subjects: History


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