Defense Date


Graduation Date

Fall 12-18-2020


One-year Embargo

Submission Type


Degree Name





McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

Sarah Breckenridge Wright

Committee Member

Danielle A. St. Hilaire

Committee Member

Sarah Miller


Rolle, Julian, Norwich, Crashaw, Donative, Mystical, Desire, Mimetic, Medieval, Mediator


Mystical texts often present themselves as possessing a “donative” intent, in which the writer aims to share the significance of their own experience. This dissertation will show how a consideration of donative intent and its textual results can enrich the study of medieval and early-modern mystical writings, approaching them from the broad concept of triangular mimetic desire in conjunction with other theoretical insights in order to examine the methods through which writers seek to portray their mediator-object relationship with God and inspire reading subjects’ mimetic desire.

I will elucidate Richard Rolle’s portrayal of his mediatorial purpose and unique experiences, and how his language and stylistic choices communicate the overwhelming and displacing aspects of these events, while bringing about a reading experience that is in its own way overwhelming and displacing. Julian of Norwich, I will demonstrate, undertakes a hermeneutic of identification conflating mediator and subjects while presenting elements of divine-human identification. She portrays a positive mimetic triangle enabled by its divine object. Richard Crashaw presents a unique derivative donative intent, portraying in his Teresan poems Teresa of Avila as mediator and her mediator-object relationship. His stylistic choices serve these portrayals, providing a reading experience aesthetically analogous to Teresa’s experiences of the divine. He portrays responding subjects within the poems to suggest the response of triangular mimetic desire.

These analyses will involve a unique synthesis of elements from phenomenology, theology, historical studies, and stylistics, validating the use of hybridized approaches in elucidating the underlying intentions and representational elements of mystical texts.



Available for download on Saturday, December 18, 2021