Hadewijch of Brabant's seventh vision of union with the Eucharist has often been cited as exemplifying the embodied nature of medieval women's spirituality. This essay recontextualizes the way embodiment and gender are conceived of through an analysis of the figures and functions of inner and outer bodies in Hadewijch's Visions and her List of the Perfect. Arguing against a Neoplatonic interpretation of Hadewijch's visions that disassociates the ideal inner body from any material and historical manifestation, this essay stresses the importance of werke for Hadewijch, in which the outer body is transformed according to the perfected inner body manifest in the visions. As the visions progress, the way Hadewijch reads and understands the inner body informs the nature and experience of the outer material body. Embodiment is thus inextricable from reading, interpreting, and performing a kind of textuality, recasting how we conceptualize the role of the body in women's mystical texts.
Patricia Dailey; Children of Promise: The Bodies of Hadewijch of Brabant. Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 1 May 2011; 41 (2): 317–343. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10829636-1218331
Download citation file: