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Temple University

1. Van Oort, Jessica. Dancing in Body and Spirit: Dance and Sacred Performance in Thirteenth-Century Beguine Texts.

Degree: PhD, 2009, Temple University

Dance

This study examines dance and dance-like sacred performance in four texts by or about the thirteenth-century beguines Elisabeth of Spalbeek, Hadewijch, Mechthild of Magdeburg, and Agnes Blannbekin. These women wrote about dance as a visionary experience of the joys of heaven or the relationship between God and the soul, and they also created physical performances of faith that, while not called dance by medieval authors, seem remarkably dance-like to a modern eye. The existence of these dance-like sacred performances calls into question the commonly-held belief that most medieval Christians denied their bodies in favor of their souls and considered dancing sinful. In contrast to official church prohibitions of dance I present an alternative viewpoint, that of religious Christian women who physically performed their faith. The research questions this study addresses include the following: what meanings did the concept of dance have for medieval Christians; how did both actual physical dances and the concept of dance relate to sacred performance; and which aspects of certain medieval dances and performances made them sacred to those who performed and those who observed? In a historical interplay of text and context, I thematically analyze four beguine texts and situate them within the larger tapestry of medieval dance and sacred performance. This study suggests that medieval Christian concepts of dance, sacred performance, the soul, and the body were complex and fluid; that medieval sacred performance was as much a matter of a correct inner, emotional and spiritual state as it was of appropriate outward, physical actions; and that sacred performance was a powerful, important force in medieval Europe that various Christians used to support their own beliefs or to contest the beliefs and practices of others.

Temple University – Theses

Advisors/Committee Members: Meglin, Joellen A., Bond, Karen E., Biddick, Kathleen, Flanagan, Eileen.

Subjects/Keywords: Dance; Beguines; Dance; Medieval; Performance; Thirteenth-Century

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APA · Chicago · MLA · Vancouver · CSE | Export to Zotero / EndNote / Reference Manager

APA (6th Edition):

Van Oort, J. (2009). Dancing in Body and Spirit: Dance and Sacred Performance in Thirteenth-Century Beguine Texts. (Doctoral Dissertation). Temple University. Retrieved from http://digital.library.temple.edu/u?/p245801coll10,45623

Chicago Manual of Style (16th Edition):

Van Oort, Jessica. “Dancing in Body and Spirit: Dance and Sacred Performance in Thirteenth-Century Beguine Texts.” 2009. Doctoral Dissertation, Temple University. Accessed November 22, 2019. http://digital.library.temple.edu/u?/p245801coll10,45623.

MLA Handbook (7th Edition):

Van Oort, Jessica. “Dancing in Body and Spirit: Dance and Sacred Performance in Thirteenth-Century Beguine Texts.” 2009. Web. 22 Nov 2019.

Vancouver:

Van Oort J. Dancing in Body and Spirit: Dance and Sacred Performance in Thirteenth-Century Beguine Texts. [Internet] [Doctoral dissertation]. Temple University; 2009. [cited 2019 Nov 22]. Available from: http://digital.library.temple.edu/u?/p245801coll10,45623.

Council of Science Editors:

Van Oort J. Dancing in Body and Spirit: Dance and Sacred Performance in Thirteenth-Century Beguine Texts. [Doctoral Dissertation]. Temple University; 2009. Available from: http://digital.library.temple.edu/u?/p245801coll10,45623

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