Research Project


From Revelation to Ritual: Comparative Perspectives on Agency and Authority in Journeys to the Afterlife, 600-900

Nicole Volmering

For medieval visionary narratives, a surge of renewed interest and innovation in the genre - or as some others would see it, rather the beginning of it - can be identified in the long seventh century (ca. 580s-730s). Its rise in popularity is connected to a growing interest in personal eschatology between the Late Antique and the Medieval period, in particular in the fate of the soul immediately upon death, as well as in the geographical arrangement of the afterworld itself. As these medieval accounts rapidly develop into a recognizable and popular tale type from this point forward, they simultaneously draw on older parallels and react to contemporary developments. Taking the cue (from my prior research) that agency is an important parameter of this change, my project zooms in on the themes of agency and authority (which stands in close apposition) from three hitherto underexplored perspectives: the notion of visions and apocalypses as twin genres; the influence of apocalyptic rhetoric and contemporary eschatological anxiety on the literary narrative; and the relationship between the practical wisdom imparted on the visionary in the narrative and tangible devotional practices.

back to "Prophecy, Eschatology, and Apocalpyse" overview