This is a book about pleasure in the movement of the body; it traces the visual, tactile, and kinesthetic pleasures that accompany a consciousness of the body in space. That said, both the bodies and movements discussed in its pages might seem strange; indeed, I have selected them because they are, because their strangeness encourages us to think about body experience beyond the skin of the modern individual. These bodies are the cooperative bodies of monastic communities, the “dead” yet living bodies of anchorites, and the liminal bodies of women at the cusp of the religious/secular divide. All are in some sense, unsettled: they are body “productions” that could change shape either through a strenuous exertion of the will or a lack of mindfulness. Demanding constant enactment, perpetually in motion, they defy easy identification with the fixed categories of male or female, heterosexual or homosexual, singular or shared. In doing so, they complicate the history of sexuality (to which this book aims to contribute), even while centering the history of affective desire.


Thirteenth Century Ideal Reader Spiritual Exercise Medieval Literature Romance Literature 
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  1. 1.
    Classic studies of affective theology include Etienne Gilson, The Mystical Theology of Saint Bernard, trans. A.H.C. Downes (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1940) andGoogle Scholar
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    See Iser, The Act of Reading: A Theory of Aesthetic Response (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1978) andGoogle Scholar
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  32. 18.
    See, for example, Talal Asad, Genealogies of Religion: Disciplines and Reasons of Power in Christianity and Islam (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1993), pp. 141–147Google Scholar
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  34. 20.
    The Latin text is taken from Sancii Bernardi Opera, Vol. I, Sermones super Cantica Canticorum, ed. Jean Leclercq et al. (Rome: Editiones Cistercienses, 1957), p. 5.Google Scholar
  35. The English translation is from Bernard of Clairvaux, Selected Works, trans. G.R. Evans, (New York: Paulist Press, 1987), p. 212.Google Scholar
  36. 30.
    See Janet Burton, Monastic and Religious Orders in Britain: 1000–1300 (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1994), pp. 101–106, andCrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Paul Saenger, “Silent Reading: Its Impact on Late Medieval Script and Society” Viator 13 (1982), pp. 399–401 [367–414].CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 36.
    The quoted phrases are from Andrew Talyor, “Into His Secret Chamber: Reading and Privacy in Late Medieval England,” in The Practice and Representation of Reading in England, ed. James Raven et al. (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1996), p. 42.Google Scholar

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© Lara Farina 2006

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