Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



Major Professor

Robert Bast

Committee Members

Thomas Burman, Jeri McIntosh


This thesis will focus on the devotional accounts of several influential women living in European cloisters or other religious communities during the twelfth, thirteenth, and early fourteenth centuries, such as Hadewijch of Antwerp, Mary of Oignies, Gertrude of Helfta, Mechthild of Magdeburg. I will explore how the rhetoric of love, selfknowledge, intention, and the focus on Christ’s humanity influenced the development of theological themes that affected their experiences and featured prominently in their writing. Finally, this thesis will examine the influence of affective mysticism and of courtly love poetry on the genre of medieval religious literature reporting mystical encounters with Christ by women in cloisters and other religious communities such as beguinages. Understanding more about what influenced these women provides insight into the expression of ecstatic religious experience during the late medieval period.

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