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Hearing Voices in the Middle Ages


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Dr. Christine Cooper-Rompato’s essay “Hearing, Seeing, Smelling, Tasting, and Touching the Voice: Gender and Multimodal Visions in the Lives of Thomas of Cantimpré” has just been published in an essay collection titled Visions and Voice-Hearing in Medieval and Early Modern Contexts (Palgrave MacMillan) The essay is one of the fruits of several years of work that Cooper-Rompato undertook on voice-hearing in medieval religious literature. Although many medieval people claimed to receive experiences of the divine that engaged several or all of their senses, in the English language these experiences have generally been referred to as “visions.” Cooper-Rompato analyzes over 200 visions from the Latin writings of Thomas of Cantimpré, a thirteenth-century Dominican, in order to discuss the role that multi-modality (i.e. the multi-sensory vision) has in establishing a saintly person’s religious authority. The workshops from which this collection developed were funded in part by grants from the Wellcome Trust.