This feminist study demonstrates the ways in which the 15th-century writer, pilgrim and mystic Margery Kempe exploited the gendered ideologies of flesh and text through her controversial practices of writing. It challenges prevailing scholarly assumptions of Kempe's illiteracy, her role in the writing of her book, her misunderstanding of mystical concepts, and the failure of her book to influence a reading community. Instead of viewing Kempe as marginal to the great mystical and literary traditions of the late Middle Ages, this study takes her seriously as a woman responding to the cultural constraints and exclusions of her time.
Karma Lochrie is Ruth Halls Professor of English at Indiana University. She is the author of Covert Operations: The Medieval Uses of Secrecy, also available from the University of Pennsylvania Press.