Rachel Lyon



Research title

'Imitatio as method: reading, writing and the un-becoming of the mystic self'

Research summary

My research project, titled 'Imitatio as Method', looks at the writing and religious practice of medieval Christian mystics, with a current close focus on Catherine of Siena. I am interested in how Catherine conceives of her self, how she articulates this in text, and how this affects her religious practice. I consider the space opened up by the being of a text to be a collaborative one accessed through the practice of reading and writing, inside which Catherine and I can come to touch, through which Catherine and I bleed into one another. By bringing together the 20th c. theories which have shaped my understanding of my self and Catherine's self-theorisation, through close reading and imitative writing practices, I hope to open up Catherine's radical ideas around being, unbeing and self-un-becoming to those working outside of the field of theology/religious studies; and to bring Catherine into a space occupied by 20th c. philosophers and theorists with which I think her practice of- and communication of- 'self' really deeply resonates.




January 2016- December 2018 College of Arts PhD Scholarship

2013-2014 Glasgow Educational and Marshall Trust Grant


  • 'Catherine of Siena's Mouth', College of Arts Postgraduate Conference, June 2017, University of Glasgow
  • 'Haemorrhoissa: Reading Mark 5:24-34 with Catherine of Siena', History of Art Postgraduate Symposium, May 2017, University of Glasgow
  • 'Imitatio as method: Catherine of Siena's self-articulation in text', Mysticism in Comparative Perspective conference, December 2016, University of Glasgow
  • 'The nothingnesses of being beloved: reading chapter 64 of Catherine of Siena's Dialogue', Literature, Theology and the Arts seminar series, October 2016, University of Glasgow
  • ' "You are I and I am you": Locating the self in the mystic texts of Angela of Foligno and Catherine of Siena', History of Art Postgraduate Symposium, June 2016, University of Glasgow
  • 'Letter to Lygia Clark', Group Critical Writing Residency, July 2014, Cooper Gallery, Dundee
  • 'Nostalgia do corpo: Lygia Clark', Writing Making Curating Feminist Art Histories, March 2014, University of Edinburgh
  • 'Lygia Clark', workshop using some of Clark's propositions, January 2014, Market Gallery, Glasgow