Writing Faith

Text, Sign, and History in the Miracles of Sainte Foy

Kathleen Ashley and Pamela Sheingorn

Writing Faith
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Kathleen Ashley and Pamela Sheingorn

216 pages | 6 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 1999
Cloth $37.50 ISBN: 9780226029665 Published July 1999
A trickster saint whose miracles reportedly included the healing of an inguinal hernia via a hammer and anvil, Sainte Foy inspired one of the most important collections of miracle stories of the central middle ages. Kathleen Ashley and Pamela Sheingorn explore the act of "writing faith" as performed both by the authors of these stories and by the scholars who have used them as sources for the study of medieval religion and society.

As Ashley and Sheingorn show, differing agendas shaped the miracle stories over time. The first author, Bernard of Angers, used his narratives to critique popular religion and to establish his own literary reputation, while the monks who continued the collection tried to enhance their monastery's prestige. Because these stories were rhetorical constructions, Ashley and Sheingorn argue, we cannot use them directly as sources of historical data. Instead, they demonstrate how analyzing representations common to groups of miracle stories—such as negative portrayals of Muslims on the eve of the Crusades—can reveal the traces of history.

“Elegantly combining interpretative strategies from a variety of disciplines, the authors of this book give us new ways of looking at collections of miracle stories. . . . [W]hile never losing sight of historical context, Writing Faith admirably succeeds in the difficult task of being truly interdisciplinary. Never lapsing into jargon or obscurity, it is a book that can be read with interest and profit by anyone concerned with medieval culture, literature, or religion."
Kirsten Wolf | Biography
“What distinguishes the book from many other works on hagiography is its tight and lucid structure, built upon a clear and novel methodological approach. <I>Writing Faith<I> will no doubt help to shape the methodological approaches of future research, and take its place as a significant volume in modern hagiographical study.”
Introduction: Reading Hagiography
1. Bernard of Angers and the Trickster Text
2. Bernard of Angers between Two Worlds
3. The Monastic Appropriation of Bernard's Text
4. Late Miracle Narratives
5. The Social Semiotics of the Liber miraculorum
Conclusion: The Cultural Work of Miracle Collections
For more information, or to order this book, please visit http://www.press.uchicago.edu
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