Writing + Research

I am currently in the process of expanding my dissertation, Trusting Temptation: Interpreting Women’s Visionary Writing in Late-Medieval England, into a book project, entitled Contemplating the Spirits: Gender and Race from Medieval England to Colonial Spanish America.

See below for some more details about where to find my writing and what it’s about.

“Mysticism and the Making of Simone Weil,” in Thinking of the Medieval: Midcentury Intellectuals and the Middle Ages, ed. Benjamin A. Saltzman and R.D. Perry (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2022), 239–54.

“Mysticism and the Making of Simone Weil” argues that Simone Weil, the mid-century French thinker, and her early editors fashioned her as a modern iteration of the medieval mystics, replicating a key feature of the archive of medieval women’s mystical writing: the construction of medieval women’s textual afterlives by male clerics. Though scholars have often observed parallels between Weil and the medieval mystics, the ways in which Weil and her editors effect this parallel have not been thoroughly explored. Weil and her editors constructed her as a Christian mystic—drawing both on contemporary discussions of the topic, and on the archive of medieval mysticism for points of comparison—in a distinctly modern sense of the term, as it was coming to be understood in twentieth-century France. Together, they transform her image much as the advisors and amanuenses of the medieval mystics did in transmitting their works into modernity.

“Trusting Women’s Visions: The Discernment of Spirits in Julian of Norwich’s Revelation of Love,” The Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 51.2 (May 2021): 193–214.

Julian of Norwich, the late-medieval English visionary writer, intervened in the clerical discourses surrounding the discernment of spirits (Latin discretio spirituum), a method for observing differences between divine and diabolical causes of visionary experience. During the late Middle Ages in Europe, churchmen used methods of discernment in some prominent trials to examine female visionaries for sanctity or heresy. In these instances, discernment offers a medieval analogue to what critics such as Rita Felski, following Paul Ricoeur, have termed paranoid reading practices or the “hermeneutics of suspicion,” premised on demystifying the illusory nature of signs, as opposed to reparative reading practices or the “hermeneutics of trust,” which calls for restoring their meaning. In a climate when discretio spirituum came to prominence, Julian responded to the suspicious techniques developed to interpret women’s visions and bodies by incorporating an innovative guide for discernment in A Revelation of Love that prioritizes trust over suspicion. Julian’s trusting form of discernment offers a way to recuperate one of the most stigmatized aspects of femininity: woman’s perceived susceptibility to diabolical influence. A Revelation of Love shows how apparently diabolical signs can indicate God’s divine presence.