New Perspectives on The Book of Margery Kempe1 This book takes into consideration more radical interpretations and rewritings of The Book of Margery Kempe from various contem- porary critical perspectives and from a creative point of view. This work offers a particular focus on gender and sexuality in the repre- sentation of the public roles assumed by Margery Kempe as a mystic, (outlaw) preacher and pilgrim. Over the last decade of the 20th century and the first decade of the 21st century, Margery Kempe’s text and character have received increasing critical atten- tion, and more than other contemporary mystics and their texts, from scholars interested not only in the field of Medieval Studies but also the fields of Women Studies, Gender Studies and more recently Queer Studies. At the same time, Margery and her Book have become a powerful source of inspiration for unconventional authors interested in the interconnections of spirituality and sexu- ality and in her queerness. We shall be taking into examination the way in which the rep- resentation of Margery in her public roles is analyzed more and more frequently in terms of gender and by making reference to the concepts of performance and queerness. We shall also be drawing attention to some of the issues emerging from the widely-accepted definition of the book as the first autobiography in English, as re- 1 The first version of this chapter was presented as a paper at the 24th AIA Conference “Challenges for the 21st Century: Dilemmas, Ambiguities, Di-...
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