The representation of time in early modern spiritual self-writing has received little critical attention. This essay seeks to redress that neglect. It focuses on the conception of time in the writings of Carmelite nuns, considering English women’s formulations alongside those of the Discalced founder-reformer, Teresa de Jesus of Avila, whose ideas were themselves shaped in response to Augustine’s theories of temporality. The essay also draws on work by a range of philosophers, most particularly Auerbach, Kant, Kierkegaard, Kristeva, and Levinas. It concludes that early modern nuns’ writing casts new light on ideas of time in a period much-occupied with contentions between theologians and those engaged in empirical enquiry.
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