Mascot for #DevilDiss

Mascot for #DevilDiss
Mascot for #DevilDiss

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Women and the Devil in Medieval Literature: Outline


So, I completed my literature review for this topic. But I find myself needing something to hook into. I have the idea that I need case studies to ground my research. Julian of Norwich is a great one for her placement on the Virgin side of my continuum, for her bedevilment by the devil. However, I am struggling with finding a case study for the other side- the whore.
Because my dissertation focuses on English literature, I feel I need to choose only English texts/people. However, Joan of Arc as a figure would have been known to the English.
One thing that is of interest, is that according to http://www.personal.utulsa.edu/~marc-carlson/witchtrial/eis.html, a compilation of English witchtrials, few women in the medieval period were prosecuted as witches (although this may simply reflect a lack of access to archives). The ones that were usually only suffered imprisonment as punishment. My main interest lies not in these women though, as there is plenty of scholarship on witchcraft, but in the devil as use of signpost to their position, as a way of "Othering" these women.
I am having difficulty finding records of witchtrials though, so lack the evidence of whether or not the devil was invoked.


  1. Introduction
    1. Othering women
    2. Cult of Mary
    3. Possessed or Holy Prophetess
    4. Witch’s deal?
    5. Gap: how devil was used, place women on this continuum
  2. Literature Review
    1. Aquinas
      1. deals with devil
      2. authority to pursue
      3. misogyny
    2. Possession
    3. Didactic lessons from Church
    4. Polemic ---> heretic
  3. Conclusion
    1. Devil was used as signpost to signify where a women fell on this continuum
      1. Tortured by, but defeated meant she was holy
      2. Listened to, guided, deal meant she was a witch/whore


  1. Case Study:
    1. Margery of Kempe
    2. Joan of Arc
    3. Julian of Norwich

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