The historical understanding of female premodern possessions. Problematizing some gender assumptions in the historiography on Teresa de Ávila and Jeanne des Anges

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Abstract

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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-141
Number of pages17
JournalWomen's History Review
Volume29
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2020

Keywords

  • ahistoricism
  • Divine and demonic possession
  • gender history
  • historiography
  • Jeanne des Anges
  • Teresa de Ávila

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