Session Title

The Medieval Beguines: A Radical Phenomenon of Proto-Feminism

Sponsoring Organization(s)

Romanian Institute of Orthodox Theology and Spirituality of New York

Organizer Name

Alina N. Feld

Organizer Affiliation

General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church

Presider Name

Sean C. Stidd

Presider Affiliation

Wayne State Univ.

Paper Title 1

Medieval Female Mystics: Strategy and Vision on the Razor's Edge

Presenter 1 Name

Ann Satterfield

Presenter 1 Affiliation

General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church

Paper Title 2

Spiritual Epistemology of Mechthild of Magdeburg

Presenter 2 Name

Fumiko Sakakibaru

Presenter 2 Affiliation

General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church

Paper Title 3

Black Sun: Hadewijch of Antwerp and Julia Kristeva

Presenter 3 Name

Alina N. Feld

Start Date

12-5-2019 8:30 AM

Session Location

Schneider 1280

Description

Feminist theology has been both dependent on and critical of, the different types of secular feminist theory and their attitudes to sex and gender. It complicated the matter by introducing the question of God. Can Biblical and Christian tradition provide the resources to transcend its own quite evident patriarchal bias or not?

Feminist theologians Rosemary Radford Ruether, Carolyne Bynum, Elizabeth Johnson, Serene Jones, identify proto-feminism in women mystics of the Middle Ages from Hildegard of Bingen to Julian of Norwich, but especially in the beguines, Hadewijch of Antwerp, Mechthild of Magdeburg and Marguerite Porete. The radical theology of the medieval mystics cost them condemnation, ostracism, persecution, even their life as in the case of Porete. From their socio-economic autonomy to their political strategy of establishing authority, to their heterodox theological experiences and views that challenge medieval scholasticism, they emerge as a unique phenomenon, and a vigorous revolutionary movement.

Questions of gendered mystical experience, ontological difference between sexes, of the nature of ultimate reality and theological language arise. The beguines propose uncommon theological claims—God as mother, women’s spiritual equality in redemption, reversal of accepted roles and hierarchies, transcendence of dualism, affirmation of ultimate fluid identity. With this approach difference transcends duality and leads to plurality and gender fluidity without a loss of embodiment while traditional, stereotypical visions of masculinity and femininity are dissolved and subverted in the divine itself. The beguine movement emerges as a sui generis avantgarde of postmodern thinking enacted by contemporary thinkers such as Luce Irigaray and Judith Butler. Alina N. Feld

This document is currently not available here.

Share

COinS
 
May 12th, 8:30 AM

The Medieval Beguines: A Radical Phenomenon of Proto-Feminism

Schneider 1280

Feminist theology has been both dependent on and critical of, the different types of secular feminist theory and their attitudes to sex and gender. It complicated the matter by introducing the question of God. Can Biblical and Christian tradition provide the resources to transcend its own quite evident patriarchal bias or not?

Feminist theologians Rosemary Radford Ruether, Carolyne Bynum, Elizabeth Johnson, Serene Jones, identify proto-feminism in women mystics of the Middle Ages from Hildegard of Bingen to Julian of Norwich, but especially in the beguines, Hadewijch of Antwerp, Mechthild of Magdeburg and Marguerite Porete. The radical theology of the medieval mystics cost them condemnation, ostracism, persecution, even their life as in the case of Porete. From their socio-economic autonomy to their political strategy of establishing authority, to their heterodox theological experiences and views that challenge medieval scholasticism, they emerge as a unique phenomenon, and a vigorous revolutionary movement.

Questions of gendered mystical experience, ontological difference between sexes, of the nature of ultimate reality and theological language arise. The beguines propose uncommon theological claims—God as mother, women’s spiritual equality in redemption, reversal of accepted roles and hierarchies, transcendence of dualism, affirmation of ultimate fluid identity. With this approach difference transcends duality and leads to plurality and gender fluidity without a loss of embodiment while traditional, stereotypical visions of masculinity and femininity are dissolved and subverted in the divine itself. The beguine movement emerges as a sui generis avantgarde of postmodern thinking enacted by contemporary thinkers such as Luce Irigaray and Judith Butler. Alina N. Feld