Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

The Color of Angels: Cosmology, Gender, and the Aesthetic Imagination

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

The Color of Angels: Cosmology, Gender, and the Aesthetic Imagination

Article excerpt

The Color of Angels: Cosmology, Gender, and the Aesthetic Imagination. By Constance Classen. London and New York: Routledge, 1998. x + 234 pp. $75.00 (cloth); $21.00 (paper).

In The Color of Angels, Constance Classen sets out to uncover the ways that gender and the senses have intersected in western culture. Beginning with Hildegard of Bingen and encompassing a diverse set of figures including medieval women mystics, Ignatius of Loyola, witch-hunters, seventeenth-- century writer Margaret Cavendish, and symbolist and surrealist poets and writers, Classen shows how the masculine primacy of the visual has all but trumped the significance of taste, touch, and particularly smell, since the visual is associated with reason and the other senses with the body. By paying attention to how the non-visual senses have played significant roles, especially for women, Classen writes both women and these senses "back into history," enriching considerably our understanding of the western tradition.

This is a difficult book to classify, since it ranges so widely. Classen draws upon theology, history, literature, and the visual arts to make her points. There is a wealth of information provided-notes and bibliography take up sixty-eight pages-that both substantiates much recent feminist research and challenges prevailing ways of understanding cultural history. …

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