Sensing the Extraordinary

When reading the extraordinary writings of the mystics and visionaries of the Middle Ages it is impossible to ignore the multisensory complexity of spiritual experience. The colours, sounds, music, smells and taste of spiritual ecstasy are evoked, often synaesthetically, by holy women like Julian of Norwich and Catherine of Siena. So when Professor Barry Smith’s … More Sensing the Extraordinary

The Annus Horribilis of 2016: Medieval Holy Legends, stars lost, and stars found

2016 has without doubt been the year of loss. The cruellest of years from the Grim Reaper of  Legends. The world has lost so many cultural icons this year through the ruthless and indiscriminate hand of mortality that it has often seemed like an entire, year-length Groundhog-April-Fool’s Day. First, the great David Bowie, famous for … More The Annus Horribilis of 2016: Medieval Holy Legends, stars lost, and stars found

Can we ever find ‘truth’ in the personal stories of history? 

My recent article about powerful medieval women and the ramifications for women-in-power, published in The Conversation, and again in The Independent online, stimulated quite some debate. Surely, commentators asked, visionaries like Catherine of Siena and Joan of Arc were “delusional”, or “ignorant”? Why should their experiences be taken seriously? Weren’t they simply brainwashed individuals of … More Can we ever find ‘truth’ in the personal stories of history? 

A Supermoon-Remembrance for the Martyrs of the World

  Tonight, the moon is at its closest, and brightest, for 68 years. Not until 2034 will it reach the same latitude and illumination; a timely reminder of the immensity of our solar system and the epic proportion of the speed, distance, and relativity of the innumerable spheres of rock that orbit in space. Ours … More A Supermoon-Remembrance for the Martyrs of the World

Medieval literature, Medicine, Transformations

Welcome to Medieval Metamorphoses: a project site that brings together questions of gender, literature, religion, science, medicine, experience and identity. I like to think of medieval women as owners of Palimpsest Bodies: bodies that are shaped and distorted, enclosed and diffusive, modified and rewritten. That’s why this project is about metamorphoses – because in order to … More Medieval literature, Medicine, Transformations