My lover, my god: the role of gender in the mystical theology of The Cloud of Unknowing
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The fourteenth-century mystical text, The Cloud of Unknowing, has received much scholarly attention through the years, yet scholars rarely take notice of the role of gender in the Cloud-author's theology. The text may be written by a male priest to a presumably male novice, but we can in no way infer from these details that the text is thereby masculine. Quite the contrary, it is the purpose of this thesis to demonstrate that the Cloud-author rather openly locates his text on the feminine pole of the masculine/feminine binary system, and that he does so in order to define his approach to contemplation over and against those approaches considered dominant at the time. Rather than emphasizing reason and intellect as the primary means of achieving knowledge of the divine, the Cloud-author stresses the superiority of the will as the faculty in and through which divine union occurs, and he teaches that love alone makes this union possible. Because the faculty of will has long been associated with the feminine end of the binary, and reason, language, and intellect with the masculine end, the author of The Cloud of Unknowing thus not only privileges a feminine position but actively discounts traditionally masculine ways of knowing.
- Masters Theses