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Grant number like: FB-55205-10

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Anna Harrison
Loyola Marymount University (Los Angeles, CA 90045-2650)

Fellowships for College Teachers and Independent Scholars
Research Programs

[Grant products]

$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
8/1/2010 – 7/31/2011

"Thousands and Thousands of Lovers": Sense of Community Among the Nuns of Helfta

Working with the largest collection of female-authored writings of the thirteenth century, my book examines the religious significance of community to the Cistercian nuns of Helfta, in Saxony. I ask how the nuns imagined the relationship between a person's spiritual progress and her membership in community. I attend to notions of community both among and between the living and the dead, taking up basic questions about whom the nuns counted as members of their community and whom they excluded; about their understanding of the reciprocal obligations of their community's members; and about tensions and conflicts within community to which they gave vent. I comb the Helfta literature for what its production reveals about writing as a communal spiritual practice that creates community. My study contributes to the history of ideas about community, to the study of female intellectual achievement, and to investigations into women as custodians and creators of spirituality.