Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Mary Dzon

Committee Members

Laura Howes, Maura Lafferty, Roy Liuzza


This dissertation investigates the interactions in the transmission and reception of visionary women’s texts, devotional retellings of Christ’s life, and female book cultures in late-medieval England (ca.1350-1550). Surveying English manuscripts and texts containing the texts of St. Birgitta of Sweden and Mechthild of Hackeborn indicates a link in the commensurate popularities of the Life of Christ genre and the visionary women. Devotional Lives of Christ written by men incorporate visionary texts, though they reflect implicit medieval misogyny even as they celebrate the holy women. In contrast, a Life of Christ written by a medieval English nun blends the lived experiences of nuns and the narratives of women’s encounters with Jesus in the Gospels to create a unique devotional text. Finally, women’s religious miscellany manuscripts containing the texts of Birgitta of Sweden and Mechtild of Hackeborn reveals that women sought out the texts of holy women for use in their own devotional practices, and that women may have created original paths of textual transmission in their communities.

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