Rolle, Hilton and the author of The Cloud of Unknowing: the divine as freedom in middle English contemplative writings

Taylor, Cheryl Madeline (1998) Rolle, Hilton and the author of The Cloud of Unknowing: the divine as freedom in middle English contemplative writings. PhD thesis, James Cook University.

PDF (Thesis)
Download (12MB) | Preview
View at Publisher Website:


The thesis argues that the leading male-authored contemplative writings composed in England in the fourteenth century mediated many aspects of contemporary ideology, including the most conservative, but that their mediation of new social paradigms renders them liminal texts. The key contention is that the writings' social and historical creativity stems from their centring on the divine. The thesis rejects Marxist and post-structuralist constructions of the divine as the peak and ultimate determinant of an unjust social system. It does, however, adopt both Irigaray's concept of the divine as a feminist strategy, and the Shaivite conception of the divine as the ultimate source of freedom and creativity. Other theories and models applied to the texts in the course of discussion include post-structuralist and Shaivite conceptions of language and of the "reality" produced by discourse, insights into the binary foundations of language and experience developed by Cixous and Kristeva, theories of logos in relation to "feminine" poetic excess, Bynum's views on mediaeval constructions of gender, Volosinov's stylistic theory, theories of utopia and play, and Gnosticism as a model of marginality. The thesis adopts the minute reading practices proposed by David Aers, as a strategy for uncovering the writings' synchronic engagement with contemporary -historical circumstances, which are outlined in preliminary chapters. A purpose of the thesis is to counter the current critical trend to merge the writings diachronically with preceding literary and ecclesiastical traditions, by emphasising their production by the ideology of their period. The basis of discussion is a detailed examination and analysis of all the known works by each of the chosen authors. Rolle's writings and The Cloud of Unknowing and its companion texts are dealt with in the order required by the argument, but Section Two considers Hilton's whole canon in chronological order of composition.

Item ID: 67088
Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Richard Rolle, Walter Hilton, 14th century, literature, writing, feminist theory, divine, The Cloud of Unknowing
Copyright Information: Copyright © 1998 Cheryl Madeline Taylor.
Additional Information:

Original version in print in two volumes.

Date Deposited: 09 Mar 2021 04:05
FoR Codes: 47 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 4705 Literary studies > 470504 British and Irish literature @ 70%
50 PHILOSOPHY AND RELIGIOUS STUDIES > 5003 Philosophy > 500313 Philosophy of gender @ 30%
SEO Codes: 13 CULTURE AND SOCIETY > 1302 Communication > 130203 Literature @ 100%
Downloads: Total: 77
Last 12 Months: 22
More Statistics

Actions (Repository Staff Only)

Item Control Page Item Control Page