Permissible devotion: discovering transitions in the materiality and embodiment of women's faith expressions during the English reformation

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Kerton-Johnson, Catherine
Alves, Abel A.
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This thesis examines five devotional works written for or by women published between 1574 and 1624, spanning the decades that could be described as the transitional period of the religious status quo in England from Catholicism to Protestantism. The language of devotion is examined in the light of embodied spirituality, and how this may have transitioned to a more scriptural and moral piety towards the end of the period. Areas are identified in which women adjusted their domestic and personal devotional practice so they could retain their religious agency, as well as perpetuate, in some form, deeply valued devotional practices that had been part of community life for centuries. It shows that, during the period of the Reformation, the materiality of domestic religious practice transferred from apotropaic or devotional objects to textual objects that reflected the new emphasis on scripture and pious morality. In addition, examination of the language used in devotional works identifies conceptual shifts in women’s understanding of the bodily expressions of their spirituality.