Selfhood and ‘Gostly Menyng’ in Some Middle English Mysticssemiotic Approaches to Contemplative Theology

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This is primarily a study of selfhood in the vernacular works of Walter Hilton, those associated with The Cloud of Unknowing, and Julian of Norwich. The three authors show differing governing paradigms for their presentation of the contemplative self. For Hilton, a grounding binary of opposition of flesh and spirit dominates his psychological and Christological paradigms. This is extended in the Cloud author to include an attempted semiotic annihilation of ‘bodily’ linguistic conception. Julian transgresses boundaries assumed by Hilton and the Cloud author via an Incarnationism that permeates her mode of writing and her understanding of the ‘menying’ of her text. This comprehensive work is part of an emerging movement in the study of the English Mystics which incorporates critical theory and postmodern theological perspectives in close readings of mystical texts.

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