Seminar: Blinded by the Light? Medieval visionary texts

Dozenten-innen: Dutton Elisabeth
Kursus: Master
Art der Unterrichtseinheit: Seminar
Sprache-n: Englisch
Semester: SP-2022

This course will trace the presentation of visions in medieval English texts, from the earliest accounts such as the Old English Dream of the Rood, to the late Middle English descriptions of visions in The Book of Margery Kempe. Visions provided a means of describing the ineffable; they could also give authority to the visionary, which might explain why many visionary accounts are by women. But visions were also potentially subversive, and opened the visionary up to scrutiny. Topics considered in the course will include: the conservatism of visionary language versus its potential subversiveness; the role of the ‘author’ in relation to God; the role of women in the creation of religious texts; strategies for creating a language to describe the ineffable. 

22.02   Visions in the Old Testament: the Old English Daniel

01.03   Roman women’s visions I: Perpetua

08.03   More Old English visions: Elene, Caedmon

15.03   Vision or Riddle? The Dream of the Rood

22.03   Roman women’s visions II: St Margaret

29.03   The visions of kings: Leofric

05.04   Roman women’s visions III : St Cecilia

12.04   Philosophical visions: Boethius and Lady Wisdom

19.04   EASTER VAC

26.04   Visions of suffering and song: Richard Rolle

03.05   European contexts: Beguine visions

10.05   The Revelation of Love: Julian of Norwich I

17.05   The Revelation of Love: Julian of Norwich II

31.05   The Book of Margery Kempe


  • An appreciation of the continuities and changes in devotional language through the medieval period
  • An understanding of the role of religion in the development of written language
  • An appreciation of issues of gender in relation to medieval texts
  • An understanding of the development of English as a written vernacular
  • Increased familiarity with late-Middle English and early-Modern English language