1st Edition

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

By Dee Dyas Copyright 2021
    368 Pages
    by Routledge

    368 Pages
    by Routledge

    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.


    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




    Dee Dyas is Professor of 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.

    "This extraordinary book is bold, scholarly and informative. Drawing on encyclopaedic reading and a fascinating research project, it demonstrates the power and the significance of the senses in the ways that we respond to cathedrals and similar buildings. I cannot recommend it too highly."

    Grace Davie, Professor Emeritus of Sociology, University of Exeter, UK

    "Dee Dyas' approach to the history of Christian sensory pilgrimage is bound to become a research and teaching staple for scholars of the Middle Ages. The study’s breadth, from Jewish Temple periods through to the present day, offers a skilled negotiation of distance and proximity wherein Dyas invites readers to understand sacred sensory experience through an historical lens. Examples from medieval texts, art and architecture ground this work, offering a treasure trove for researchers who will appreciate Dyas' expertise in pilgrimage across the disciplines."

    Suzanne Yeager, Professor of English and Medieval Studies, Fordham University, USA