Ecstasy, Intimacy, and Middle English Contemplative Culture

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date


Publication Title

A Companion to British Literature




The Fourth Lateran Council's (1215) pastoral reform produced a growing market for religious books and objects to facilitate devotional intimacy in late-medieval England. Middle English mystical writings must be contextualized within, rather than above, this dynamic material culture that extended the contemplative practices of the monastery and anchorhold to the devotionally literate living the “mixed life.” Textual and visual evidence challenges the boundaries between infused and acquired contemplation, pointing to new directions in scholarship on late-medieval mystical writers in their cultural contexts.