Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Literatur Im Kloster: Historische Funktion Und Rhetorische Legitimation Frauenmystischer Texte Des 14. Jahrbunderts

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Literatur Im Kloster: Historische Funktion Und Rhetorische Legitimation Frauenmystischer Texte Des 14. Jahrbunderts

Article excerpt

Susanne Burkle, Literatur im Kloster: Historische Funktion und rhetorische Legitimation frauenmystischer Texte des 14. Jahrhunderts, Bibliotheca Germanica 38 (Tubingen and Basel: Francke, 1999). vii + 368 pp. ISBN 3-7720-2029-1. euro69.00.

The mystical writings of fourteenth-century nuns from the convents of Adelhausen, Helfta, St. Katharinental, Kirchberg, Medingen, Oetenbach, Toss, 'Ulm', Unterlinden, Weiler, and, in particular, the Christine Ebner corpus of Engelthal are the subject of Susanne Burkle's study. Her two principal lines of enquiry arc concerned with the function of this literature with reference to its historical and institutional context and with the legitimization of this body of writing through specific rhetorical strategies.

In her first chapter, Burkle places her own investigations into context through an exhaustive and authoritative account of relevant research. Despite Ursula Peters's iconoclastic and seminal book (1988), the paradigm of the patriarchal relationship of the learned father confessor with his mystically inspired spiritual daughter is still commonly invoked as the generative influence in the holy woman's literary production. Burkle, however, is as challenging as her supervisor in her thorough questioning and examination of this assumption in her second chapter. Through a close reading of source texts, she reveals a complex and hierarchically differentiated structure within the cura monialium, and her findings indicate that the personal and individual relationship between father confessor and spiritual daughter was, in fact, discouraged. Through a detailed analysis of the textual presence of the Dominicans Heinrich von Ekkewint and Berthold von Moosburg in the corpus of writings from Engelthal, Burkle demonstrates how the nuns were less concerned with a mimetic representation of the pastoral relationship than they were with enhancing the reputation of their convent through the legendary stylization of these men with their aura of learned dignity. She also offers a tendentious reading of the life of grace of Friedrich Sunder, the secular chaplain to Engelthal, interpreting it as a promotion of the spiritual prestige of a community that could claim such a divinely inspired chaplain as its own. …

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