Witchcraft, Exorcism and the Politics of Possession in a Seventeenth-Century Convent: 'How Sister Ursula was once Bewiched and Sister Margaret Twice'

1st Edition

Nicky Hallett

Published November 20, 2017
Reference - 212 Pages
ISBN 9780815399032 - CAT# K344893

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Presenting a remarkable set of previously unpublished papers, this book concerns the bewitchment, possession and exorcism of two seventeenth-century nuns living in exile in an English convent in the Spanish Netherlands. The two women left behind an extensive set of personal writing that reveals unprecedented detail about their devotional lives and spiritual states before, during and after exorcism. Unlike other similar cases, here the women write for themselves; for the first time in 350 years this book allows their voices - and their silences - to resound in all their vibrancy. The language of the texts has been modernized to make the papers accessible to a wide range of readers, to expose in startling terms the nature of the women's experience and the ways in which female spiritual lives were constructed in the early modern era. An extensive introduction discusses the politics of piety and possession at a time when exorcism had become increasingly contentious, amidst conflicting claims for rival church reform. The book includes both autobiographical and biographical material, written by the nuns and about them, and casting new light on processes of female self-writing at just the time when the 'modern subject' is often said to have emerged. This book will appeal to those interested in a range of material - from early modern writing and cultural studies, to devotional history and auto/biography. Nicky Hallett has written several studies of women's religious writing and autobiography, including Lives of Spirit: English Carmelite Self-writing of the Early Modern Period, also published by Ashgate.

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