ReVISION: Re-assessing St. Birgitta and her Revelations in Medieval England: Circulation and Influence, 1380-1530
Young Research Talents Grant, 2019-2023 (8,000,000 NOK)
Norwegian Research Council
Holy woman Birgitta of Sweden (1303-73) was well-known across the Continent and in England through her huge collection of divine visions, the Latin Revelations, which was translated into many vernaculars. However, our understanding of Birgitta’s influence in England is uneven because most of her English texts have not been edited, and her influence on literature and religion remains understudied.
This project proposes the first comprehensive study of the full impact of Birgitta and her Revelations on medieval England. How were her texts received and circulated, and what was the extent of her influence? A bold overarching hypothesis will be tested: that from around 1380 until the English Reformation in the 1530s, Birgitta was in fact the most influential female author in medieval England, indelibly shaping English society - and, at the same time, the English also shaped Birgitta and her texts to fit their own needs and tastes, sometimes through dramatic adaptation.
In order to test this hypothesis, the project combines three innovative methodologies. First, we will create a multi-faceted, open-access database of English manuscripts and other evidence related to Birgitta. Second, select Middle English versions of Birgitta’s Revelations will be edited for the first time, in both print and digital editions. Third, we will produce network graphs that can illuminate how Birgitta’s texts circulated in England, and how her influence spread. Finally, with all this knowledge combined, our analysis will enable us to suggest a new narrative of women’s writing in England, centered on Birgitta of Sweden as the most influential female author. Altogether, the project will advance our understanding of how gender, authorship, and religious literature functioned in late medieval England.
Check back soon for link to project website.
Richard Methley, O. Carth. (d. 1527/8)
A Carthusian monk's neglected, idiosyncratic mystical treatises
Richard Methley was a monk of the contemplative Carthusian Order, at the charterhouse of Mount Grace, in the decades just before the Dissolution. He wrote down many of his mystical and visionary experiences in Latin treatises that have previously been very hard to access. Now Barbara Newman has translated them for the first time, and I have written a 15,000 word “Introduction” to the translation volume, set to be published by Cistercian Publications. I also supply the translation of his Middle English work "To Hugh Hermit: An Epistle on Solitary Life Nowadays."
The volume is currently in the copy-editing stage and looks likely to be published in early 2021.
I am also working on an article examining how time works in Methley's mystical treatises.
"Women's Literary Culture and the Medieval Canon"
Member, Leverhulme International Network (2014-17)
PI: Professor Diane Watt, University of Surrey
For more on the network, see its website.
Forthcoming publications originating in the network:
Laura Saetveit Miles and Diane Watt, eds., Studies in the Age of Chaucer special colloquium: “Women’s Literary Culture and the Medieval Canon.” Forthcoming 2020.
Laura Saetveit Miles and Diane Watt, “Women’s Literary Culture and the Medieval Canon,” introduction to Studies in the Age of Chaucer special colloquium. Forthcoming 2020.
Laura Saetveit Miles, “Canon, Anon., a Nun: Queering the Medieval Canon.” Article in Studies in the Age of Chaucer. Forthcoming 2020.