The Visual and the Visionary adds a new dimension to the study of female spirituality, with its nuanced account of the changing roles of images in medieval monasticism from the twelfth century to the Reformation. In nine essays embracing the histories of art, religion, and literature, Jeffrey Hamburger explores the interrelationships between the visual arts and female spirituality in the context of the cura monialium, the pastoral care of nuns. Used as instruments of instruction and inspiration, images occupied a central place in debates over devotional practice, monastic reform, and mystical expression. Far from supplementing a history of art from which they have been excluded, the images made by and for women shaped that history decisively by defining novel modes of religious expression, above all, the relationship between sight and subjectivity. With this book, the study of female piety and artistic patronage becomes an integral part of the general history of medieval art and spirituality.
Winner, 1999 Charles Rufus Morey Award given by the College Art Association (CAA).