Dreams, Dreamers, and Visions: The Early Modern Atlantic World

Dreams, Dreamers, and Visions: The Early Modern Atlantic World

Dreams, Dreamers, and Visions: The Early Modern Atlantic World

Dreams, Dreamers, and Visions: The Early Modern Atlantic World

Synopsis

In Europe and North and South America during the early modern period, people believed that their dreams might be, variously, messages from God, the machinations of demons, visits from the dead, or visions of the future. Interpreting their dreams in much the same ways as their ancient and medieval forebears had done--and often using the dream-guides their predecessors had written--dreamers rejoiced in heralds of good fortune and consulted physicians, clerics, or practitioners of magic when their visions waxed ominous. Dreams, Dreamers, and Visions traces the role of dreams and related visionary experiences in the cultures within the Atlantic world from the late thirteenth to early seventeenth centuries, examining an era of cultural encounters and transitions through this unique lens.

In the wake of Reformation-era battles over religious authority and colonial expansion into Asia, Africa, and the Americas, questions about truth and knowledge became particularly urgent and debate over the meaning and reliability of dreams became all the more relevant. Exploring both indigenous and European methods of understanding dream phenomena, this volume argues that visions were central to struggles over spiritual and political authority. Featuring eleven original essays, Dreams, Dreamers, and Visions explores the ways in which reports and interpretations of dreams played a significant role in reflecting cultural shifts and structuring historic change.

Contributors: Emma Anderson, Mary Baine Campbell, Luis Corteguera, Matthew Dennis, Carla Gerona, Maréa V Jordán, Lués Filipe Silvério Lima, Phyllis Mack, Ann Marie Plane, Andrew Redden, Janine Rivière, Leslie Tuttle, Anthony F. C. Wallace.

Excerpt

Anthony F. C. wallace

Some years ago, when I was a freshman at Lebanon Valley College, I took the required introductory course in English literature. the professor, who happened to be my father, required the class to memorize what he called “neck verses,” brief passages from important writers, that hopefully would help us to remember some of the common literary heritage, and also would serve as badges of identity, rather like military dog tags, identifying us as members of the educated (i.e., English-educated) community. Some lines from S. T. Coleridge’s “Kubla Khan” have stayed with me:

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
………
A damsel with a dulcimer
In a vision once I saw:
It was an Abyssinian maid,
And on her dulcimer she played,
Singing of Mount Abora.

Inspired by her “symphony and song,” he would build that pleasure dome, but would terrify those who saw him, a demon with . . .

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