Journal Article

Eros and The Abyss: Reading Medieval Mystics in Postmodernity

Grace M. Jantzen

in Literature and Theology

Volume 17, issue 3, pages 244-264
Published in print September 2003 | ISSN: 0269-1205
Published online September 2003 | e-ISSN: 1477-4623 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/litthe/17.3.244
Eros and The Abyss: Reading Medieval Mystics in Postmodernity

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In contemporary writings, nihilism is regularly figured as an abyss, contrasted with knowledge set upon secure foundations, and seen as a particular threat to theology in postmodernity. In medieval mystical writings and experience, however, the abyss was figured as the unfathomable depth of God. Each case, moreover, carries gender connotations: the abyss, in both medieval and postmodern writings, is linked with the womb (and thus with love and creativity or with fear and dread) while the solidity of foundations is, metonymically, manly reliability. I shall argue that reading medieval mystics in postmodernity allows us to destabilise postmodern metaphors (and their gender assumptions), to reconsider the way in which theological language works, and to look at questions of nihilism in a different light.

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Subjects: Literature ; Religion and Art, Literature, and Music

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