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Divine Dreamwork: Cultivation of Visions by a Fourteenth‐century French Monk

Clare Fanger
Associate Professor of Religion, Rice University
Date and Time: 
Wednesday, March 1, 2017 - 17:30

Department of Anthropology
Main Quad - Building 50
Room 51A (Colloquium Room)


How did medieval visionaries go about soliciting and acquiring knowledge from visions, as well as sharing, and interpreting them? This talk will explore some late medieval practices that facilitated visions, including prayers, visualizations, and cultivated dreaming, focusing on evidence from a book called The Flowers of Heavenly Teaching by a fourteenth-century Benedictine named John of Morigny. In this book, John traced his own acquisition of divine knowledge in both autobiographical prose and prayer. The book thus served as a kind of communal road map that allowed his visionary knowledge to be replicated, explored, and further developed by others.


Claire Fanger is a medievalist in the Department of Religion at Rice University. Her best known publications concern the history of ritual magic in the middle ages. She is the author of Rewriting Magic, an interpretive study of John of Morigny’s Flowers of Heavenly Teaching, and she has also produced an edition of that work (with Nicholas Watson). Her edited collections include Conjuring Spirits and Invoking Angels. In general her research focuses on individual and communal practices for the formation of different types of knowledge, ranging from the knowledge developed within the university curriculum to the varied disciplines of magical knowledge to visionary knowledge of God.