This paper discusses how to approach the history of female possessions today. By analyzing some recent contributions applied to two well-known historical figures: Teresa de Ávila (1515–1582) and Jeanne des Anges (1602–1665), I will problematize some of the ongoing history of female possessions. I intend a reflection on two of the current conceptual frameworks that feature the way history explains the subjective experience of these premodern possessed individuals. I focus on two kinds of interpretation: one I call the ‘neurotic’ interpretation, and the other the ‘subversive’ interpretation. Both constructions underpin explanations of women’s divine and demonic possessions, involving historiographical gender prejudices and ahistorical assumptions.
- Divine and demonic possession
- gender history
- Jeanne des Anges
- Teresa de Ávila