Thesis title: Hearts of Stone: Failures of Feeling in Medieval Devotional Culture 1200-1500
Supervisor: Annie Sutherland
Research interests: the history of emotions; aberrant affects; queerness and transness in pre-modernity; medieval surrogacy and kinship; 'horror' and the medieval; medievalism in contemporary culture; contemporary trans literature
Doctoral research: My thesis explores failures of feeling in relation to the tradition of highly emotive, Passion-centred medieval devotion known as ‘affective piety’. While late medieval devotional texts often work to stimulate the devotee’s compassion through affective meditation and emotive rhetoric, we also find references to devotees failing to feel as they ought, responding to divine suffering not with tears, but with apathy, frigidity or even callousness. I focus on these ‘stony-hearted’ devotees to ask: what are the challenges of feeling according to the affective logic of medieval devotional texts? What are the consequences of feeling isolated from your emotional community’s dominant affective paradigms? Where might resistance to those affective paradigms ultimately lead? My research breaks new ground in reading for strains in medieval affective piety traditions. It represents a significant contribution not only to medieval studies, but to wider histories of marginal, difficult, and disruptive (un)feeling.