1st Edition

The Dynamics of Pilgrimage
Christianity, Holy Places, and Sensory Experience

ISBN 9780367546076
Published October 8, 2020 by Routledge
368 Pages

USD $160.00

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Book Description

This book offers a systematic, chronological analysis of the role played by the human senses in experiencing pilgrimage and sacred places, past and present. It thus addresses two major gaps in the existing literature, by providing a broad historical narrative against which patterns of continuity and change can be more meaningfully discussed, and focusing on the central, but curiously neglected, area of the core dynamics of pilgrim experience.

Bringing together the still-developing fields of Pilgrimage Studies and Sensory Studies in a historically framed conversation, this interdisciplinary study traces the dynamics of pilgrimage and engagement with holy places from the beginnings of the Judaeo-Christian tradition to the resurgence of interest evident in twenty-first century England. Perspectives from a wide range of disciplines, from history to neuroscience, are used to examine themes including sacred sites in the Bible and Early Church; pilgrimage and holy places in early and later medieval England; the impact of the English Reformation; revival of pilgrimage and sacred places during the nineteenth and twentieth Centuries; and the emergence of modern place-centred, popular 'spirituality'.

Addressing the resurgence of pilgrimage and its persistent link to the attachment of meaning to place, this book will be a key reference for scholars of Pilgrimage Studies, History of Religion, Religious Studies, Sensory Studies, Medieval Studies, and Early Modern Studies.

Table of Contents


Part 1 The Background

1 The senses, the world, and the pilgrim: multi-disciplinary perspectives

2 Encountering the holy, the senses, and pilgrimage in the Bible

3 Pilgrimage, the senses, and the sacred in the Early Church and Late Antiquity

Part 2 Sensory Experience and the Power of Place in England c.597 – c.1540

4 Pilgrimage and the making of sacred places in early medieval England

5 Patterns of Pilgrimage in later medieval England

Part 3 Sensory Experience and the Power of Place in England: The Reformation to the Present Day

6 Experience of God and reconfiguring pilgrimage in the 'Long Reformation'

7 Sacred places, sensory experience, and the revival of pilgrimage c. 1800 to the present



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Dee Dyas is Reader in the History of Christianity and Director of the Centre for the Study of Christianity and Culture and the Centre for Pilgrimage Studies at the University of York. She has worked on the history and practice of pilgrimage, both in historical and contemporary contexts, for over twenty-five years and has spearheaded major research projects and initiatives in Pilgrimage Studies, in partnership with colleagues from the social sciences.