Fluxing Fellowship: Bodily Fluids and Forms of Community in Medieval Devotional Literature

Ellis Amity Light, Fordham University


Fluxing Fellowship argues that Middle English devotional texts employ bodily fluids to explore how communities are formed and transformed. By contemplating the fluids contained within and emitting from human, divine, and animal bodies, medieval writers were able to depict the ways that bodies and selves are not separate, coherent, and stable, but entwined with one another in complex configurations and rich intimacies. Through close readings of the bodily fluids that appear in The Book of Margery Kempe, the Croxton Play of the Sacrament, the Middle English Patience, and Julian of Norwich’s Revelation of Divine Love, this study enfolds bodily fluids into the creation and evolution of communities in medieval England and across time. Sustained attention to fluidity in discourses of medicine and illness, religious otherness and theatricality, ecocriticism, and transgender theory and affect brings a new dimension to medieval—and modern—conceptions of community, showing it to be always in flux: adaptive, transformative, and deeply embodied.

Subject Area

Medieval literature|British and Irish literature|Literature|Gender studies

Recommended Citation

Light, Ellis Amity, "Fluxing Fellowship: Bodily Fluids and Forms of Community in Medieval Devotional Literature" (2023). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI30317196.