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I am a medievalist and an adjunct college instructor in the humanities at Union College. My research includes medieval theologies of history, text/image relationships in visionary and mystical texts, and the writings of the twelfth-century Doctor of the Church, St. Hildegard of Bingen. I am also a translator of medieval Latin and German texts, especially as relate to my research. My translation of Hildegard's Book of Divine Works is available from Catholic University of America Press here. I completed a Master's in Medieval Studies at the University of Notre Dame in 2010, a Fulbright Fellowship in Germany in 2008, and a B.A. in Classics and German at Boston College in 2007.

Monday, November 01, 2021

Now published: “Picturing Hildegard of Bingen’s Sight” in The Cambridge Companion to Hildegard of Bingen

Nathaniel M. Campbell, “Picturing Hildegard of Bingen’s Sight: Illuminating Her Visions.” Ch. 12 in The Cambridge Companion to Hildegard of Bingen, ed. Jennifer Bain. Cambridge University Press, 2021, pp. 257-279; access online here.


This chapter explores the development and purpose of the illustrations in two manuscripts of Hildegard of Bingen’s works: one designed by Hildegard (the Rupertsberg Scivias), the other designed by a later generation of her monastery’s nuns (the Lucca Liber divinorum operum). An overview of her visionary experiences demonstrates the prophetic mission of their detailed images to communicate theological truths. I argue that Hildegard designed the Scivias images to aid that communication and provide visual exegesis of her visions, serving as a teaching tool to guide the reader through the manuscript. The next generation of nuns followed Hildegard’s impulse to illustrate her visions with the later Liber divinorum operum manuscript, but its famous cosmological diagram diverges from the text because the designer did not understand its meaning. The chapter closes with an assessment of the very limited influence of Hildegard’s illustrations in the later Middle Ages, with one story from the preaching of Johannes Tauler demonstrating their liability to reinterpretation.

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