Scholastic affect: gender, maternity and the history of emotions

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review


Scholastic theologians made the Virgin Mary increasingly perfect over the Middle Ages in Europe. Mary became stainless, offering an impossible but ideologically useful vision of womanhood. This work offers an implicit theory of the utility and feelings of women in a Christian salvationary economy. The Virgin was put to use as a shaming technology, one that silenced and effaced women's affective lives. The shame still stands to this day, although in secularised mutated forms. This Element deploys the intellectual history of medieval thought to map the moves made in codifying Mary's perfection. It then uses contemporary gender and affect theory to consider the implications of Mary's perfection within modernity, mapping the emotional regimes of the medieval past upon the present.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationCambridge, UK
PublisherCambridge University Press (CUP)
Number of pages60
ISBN (Electronic)9781108886406
ISBN (Print)9781108814263
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Publication series

NameCambridge Elements: Histories of Emotions and the Senses
PublisherCambridge University Press
ISSN (Print)2632-105X
ISSN (Electronic)2632-1068


  • Virgin Mary
  • scholastic theology
  • history of emotions
  • gender
  • feminism
  • affect theory


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