Consuming the Word: The Sensory Experience of the Eucharist in the Medieval West

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Thomas A. Greene & Carey E. Fee
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International Congress of Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo
13-16 May 2010

Consuming the Word:
The Sensory Experience of the Eucharist in the Medieval West

Recent scholarship on perception in the Middle Ages problematizes the medieval understanding of the senses, with approaches grounded in biology and psychology operating alongside (and often in opposition to) the social construction of sensory experience. This panel seeks to explore the sensory aspect of medieval life in the context of the celebration of the Eucharist. This ritual was arguably the central moment of Christian devotional practice in western Europe during the medieval period. The theology, iconography and liturgy of the Eucharist, however, were not static phenomena. Changes in the interpretation, depiction and celebration of the sacrament affected the devotional lives not just of clerics but of the laity as well.

We therefore invite papers which explore the experience of the Eucharist throughout the medieval period (broadly construed, ca. 500-1500), specifically those which highlight the importance of the role played by sensory perception for those who participated in the Eucharistic celebration. E-mail a brief CV and an abstract of no more than 300 words by 1 September 2009 to Thomas A. Greene (

Thomas A. Greene
Loyola University, Chicago
Dept. of History
6525 N. Sheridan Road
Chicago, IL 60626

Carey E. Fee
Florida State University
Dept. of Art History
530 W Call St
Tallahassee, FL 32306

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