Excessive Love: Exploring Immanence as the Conceptual Condition for Reading Hadwijch of Brabant

In the hopes of further promoting and engaging the work of Daniel Colucciello Barber I am offering a series of posts that reflect the work I did in a recent grad seminary on the religious writings of several medieval women. I will structure the posts as follows,

I. Introduction
II. Univocity in the Medieval Period
III. The Trajectory of Univocity to Immanence
IV. The Conceptual Paradigm of Immanence in Deleuze
V. Concepts and Excess in Hadewijch’s Complete Works
VI. Conclusion

To begin, here is an abstract of the paper.

It remains commonplace to acknowledge that mystics in general and women mystics in particular do not fit well into established categories of thought or reason. While significant work has been done in the area of conceptualizing medieval mystical accounts by women (such as focusing on the role of the body, performance, and paradox) there remains further unexplored possibilities. This paper will explore one such possibility. I will outline a conceptual understanding of immanence based on theoretical models developed from the work of Gilles Deleuze. I will use this outline to explore the work Hadewijch, a 13th century mystic. Key to this framework will be tracing the trajectory of immanence as it came out of the medieval period in the form of univocity. Without trying to position Hadewijch as some sort of cause or practitioner immanence I will demonstrate the various congruencies that her work, particularly as it culminates in her notion of love, displays in relation to immanence. Hadewijch can be read, in part, as attempting to perform the substance of love. While this demonstration may not (and as will be shown cannot) ‘justify’ immanence according to other conceptual frameworks based on a prior transcendent unity it does build an increasingly robust case precisely for questioning such conceptual traditions that have caricatured and rejected the mystical accounts of medieval women.

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