I, Catherine

Lyon, Rachel (2022) I, Catherine. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This interdisciplinary study of Catherine of Siena’s (1347-1380) mystic writing and religious practice brings together feminist theory, creative writing, and translation in order to shed new light on women’s self-writing, and the articulation of the feminine voice. While Catherine’s contribution to mystic theology has been closely studied in the existing literature, her contribution to the field of contemporary feminist theorisation of the embodied self has not. To investigate the nature of Catherine’s theory of the self, and how it relates to contemporary practice, I develop a new methodological approach in this thesis which is grounded in Catherine’s practice of imitatio Christi. I adopt imitatio as the foundation for an embodied exchange with Catherine that is: physical, involving performing physical acts of similitude to bring our bodies in line with one another; and textual, involving close study of the mechanics of her speech, and the theoretical concerns of her work, in order to bring that into connection with my own voice. The outcome of this methodology is to achieve a union of our voices in text which exposes the radical potential of Catherine’s understanding of self for the contemporary feminine voice.

My research demonstrates the relevance of Catherine’s writing and religious practice to the articulation of this feminine voice in text in two key ways. Firstly, it stages an imitative process of incorporation and shared becoming which allows Catherine’s voice to inform and be informed by influential theories of the embodied self drawn from 20th century practice, revealing radical proto-feminist aspects of her discourse. Secondly, it proposes imitatio as a feminist methodology developed through interactions with Catherine’s method of approaching the divine body as an effective method of acquiring knowledge through shared corporeal practices, and empathetic writing strategies.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Culture and Creative Arts > History of Art
Supervisor's Name: Paterson, Dr. Dominic and Fusco, Professor Maria
Date of Award: 2022
Depositing User: Theses Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2022-82987
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 17 Jun 2022 12:54
Last Modified: 17 Jun 2022 12:54
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.82987
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/82987

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