Document Type


Peer Reviewed





Gender and the Fate of Julian’s Short Text Most studies of Julian of Norwich’s Showings juxtapose her Short and Long texts, with a marked lack of enthusiasm for the Short Text in contrast to its longer, revised form thought to be textually and theologically superior. This essay asks what is at stake in the rigorous defense of Julian’s Long Text and argues that the issue of gender is central both to its revisions and to its favorable reception. The most noted revision related to gender in the Long Text is the addition of its maternal Jesus, characterized as redemptive of femininity. Concurrently, many scholars remark on the removal of references to women and Julian's sexual identity--changes troubling for an author thought of as a proto-feminist, but either minimized as irrelevant or rationalized as integral to Julian's expanded theology, thus rendering its diminished female presence proof of the Long Text's superiority. While discussions tend to address one or two revisions related to gender, this study presents a comprehensive interrogation, ultimately suggesting that our preference for the Long Text (and disregard for the Short) has been shaped by our desire to promote Julian as a woman ahead of her time, but paradoxically perpetuates the very gender hierarchy and biases that likely compelled Julian's revisions and that we wish for her Showings to challenge.

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Copyright © 2013 Rebecca June