12 Feb 2024 17:30 - 19:00 Online & Room SG2, Alison Richard Building, 7 West Road, Cambridge


An event by the Contemplation: theory/practice research network.


Claire Gilbert (Jesus College, University of Cambridge)


In 2018 Claire Gilbert defended her thesis ‘Restoring Porosity and the Ecological Crisis: a post-Ricoeurian reading of the Julian of Norwich texts’ in which she argued that Julian’s writings can have a transformative effect on our subjectivity, changing it from the ‘buffered’ self that brought about the industrial revolution and the consequent damage to our environment, to a ‘porous’ self that is open to nature, sees our interdependence with it, and seeks to serve it rather than dominate and control.

In 2019 Claire was diagnosed with myeloma, a cancer of the blood.  During two and a half years of gruelling treatment, Julian changed from being the subject of her academic research to a spiritual companion and guide.  The transformation of self argued for in the thesis became a lived reality as Julian showed Claire how to face and forgive pain.

Claire published letters she wrote during her treatment in which she shared not only the pain of the treatment but also the ways in which Julian helped her, and the many unexpected joys that arose in that period of her life.  Contemplative practice was at its heart.

Claire will speak about her relationship with Julian and read from her cancer journal Miles to Go Before I Sleep, as well as I, Julian, her fictional autobiography written in homage to her.  Contemplation will form part of the session.

For enquiries please contact the Research Networks Programme Manager.

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