Session1031
TitleBorders of Touch and Time in Art, Hagiography, and Visionary Writing
Date/TimeWednesday 6 July 2022: 09.00-10.30
 
OrganiserJanette Elliott, Yarra Theological Union, University of Divinity, Box Hill, Victoria
 
Moderator/ChairMelanie Brunner, Institute for Medieval Studies, University of Leeds
 
Paper 1031-a Borders of the Body in the Revelations of Julian of Norwich
(Language: English)
Janette Elliott, Yarra Theological Union, University of Divinity, Box Hill, Victoria
Index Terms: Theology; Women's Studies
Paper 1031-b Blurring Boundaries between the Earthly and the Divine: Visual Representations of the 'Noli me tangere' in the Late Middle Ages
(Language: English)
Claire Renkin, Yarra Theological Union, University of Divinity, Box Hill, Victoria
Index Terms: Archaeology - General; Theology
Paper 1031-c Reversing the Border between Benedict and Scholastica in the Hagiographical Record
(Language: English)
Carmel Posa, Yarra Theological Union, University of Divinity, Box Hill, Victoria
Index Terms: Hagiography; Theology
 
AbstractThis session takes the idea of both liminality and flexibility regarding borders in respect of touch, gender, time, and the body. Liminality and flexibility is addressed through the language of blurring, reversing, and entering or exiting borders. The blurring of boundaries (borders) pertains to the dialectic between the earthly and the divine, challenging the idea of 'forbidden borders' through the 'Noli me tangere'. The reversal of borders addresses gender boundaries in the hagiographical account of Scholastica's visit to her brother Benedict. The entering or exiting borders of the body in Julian of Norwich's Revelations addresses the open border of wound for crossing the threshold into healing.

Paper -a
Julian of Norwich's theology of God's motherhood permeates the Long Text of the Revelations with symbolic language including the metaphor of enclosure. Knit and 'oned' to God in our creation, this state is continuous through Christ who knit himself to our sensual nature. In Christ we are 'endlessly born and endlessly borne'. The knowledge of our enclosure in God and God in us however, is incomplete without consideration of the entry and exit points of the body. This paper explores the borders of the body in the Revelations focussing particularly on Christ's invitation to Julian to enter his wounded side.

Paper -b
In the Biblical scene of the 'Noli me tangere' (John 20: 17) the risen Christ forbids Mary Magdalene to touch him. Disregarding this command, visual artists have often shown one figure or the other challenging the boundary of non-touching. Instead of recoiling from one another, the two figures reach out teasingly or actually touch the other. By depicting hinted or actual acts of transgression, artists like Giotto, Fra Angelico, and others blur the uncertain boundary between resurrected life and death. This paper will examine how visual images deploy ambiguities when two venerated figures perform across the liminal space of a forbidden border.

Paper -c
Gender boundaries or borders exist throughout the hagiographical material of late antiquity and the medieval era. In the second book of Gregory the Great's Dialogues, there is perhaps, a failed attempt to shift this border. Here Benedict's sister, Scholastica is even used to trump the 'man of God' in holiness across the border between law and love. Nevertheless, she remains on the periphery until the penultimate scene. As hagiography, by its very nature, seeks to tell the truth, not the facts, concerning a holy figure, what if we could re-write the hagiographical material in order to address this marginalisation of Scholastica? By interrogating the categories of hagiography, itself, what if we placed Scholastica centre stage and shift Benedict to the border? And of what benefit would this be? This paper will make a case for transgressing the border of time in order to answer these questions.