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Shadows of Mary

Understanding Images of the Virgin Mary in Medieval Texts

In medieval thought, Mary was a virgin, a mother, a daughter, and a wife, alone of all her sex and yet also continually invoked in order to define femininity in general.  Shadows of Mary analyzes the figure of the Virgin Mary in medieval theological, philosophical and literary texts in order to understand how stories about her influenced the creation of female characters in both sacred and secular writing.
Teresa Reed traces aspects of Marian figuration ranging from Chaucer’s Constance and the Wife of Bath, to the medical woman of the English Trotula, St Margaret of Antioch and the Pearl maiden.  She shows how the rhetorical processes through which the medieval church manifested its ideas of truth are caught up in representational anxieties surrounding the body of a woman, and in Mary’s relationship with her shadow, Eve.
Shadows of Mary’s detailed analysis of the multiple and often contradictory roles occupied by Mary in medieval thought also opens up ways of exploring the connections between literary representation and social practices.  It offers innovative ways for using medieval studies to think through issues that have come to preoccupy contemporary studies of gender and culture.

© 2003

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Table of Contents

Series Editors’ Preface
Introduction: Going by Contraries: Eve, Mary and Meaning in the Medieval Church
1  Shadows of the Law: Death in The Man of Law’s Tale
2  Shadowy Differences: Marian Tales of Gender in The Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale
3  Dispersing Faith: Seinte Marherete, Maternal Bodies, and Telling Stories
4  Mary, the Maiden and Metonymy in Pearl

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