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January 30 , 2009

Mary Magdalene in Medieval Culture

Conflicted Roles


This innovative and multidisciplinary collection visits representations and interpretations of Mary Magdalene in the medieval and early modern periods, questioning major scholarly assumptions behind the examination of female saints and their depictions in medieval artworks, literature, and music. Mary Magdalene’s many and various characterizations from reformed prostitute to conversion-figure to devotee of Christ to "apostle to the apostles" to spiritual advisor to the Prince of Marseilles to hermit in the desert, to list just a few examples, mean that the many conflicted representations of Mary Magdalene apply to a staggering variety of cultural material, including art, liturgy, music, literature, theology, hagiography, and the historical record. Furthermore, Mary Magdalene has grown into an extremely popular and controversial figure due to recent books and movies concerning her, and due to a groundswell of general speculation concerning her relationship to Jesus: was she his acquaintance, follower, companion, wife, family-member, or lover? This volume employs a broad spectrum of theoretical methodologies in order to present poststructuralist, postcolonial, postmodernist, hagiographic, and feminist readings of the figure of Mary Magdalene, addressing and interrogating her conflicting roles and the precise relationship between her sacred and secular representations.

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