Michelle Karnes

in Imagination, Meditation, and Cognition in the Middle Ages

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780226425313
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226425337 | DOI:

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  • Literary Studies (Early and Medieval)


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The power of imagination has often been viewed more negatively than positively, and it has inspired more trepidation than confidence. This is the reason why the Middle Ages was “hostile” to or “suspicious” or “distrustful” of imagination. This book establishes not only that medieval imagination had a unique authority, but that imaginative meditations on Christ were more ambitious and purposeful than scholarship on them has recognized. Focusing on the philosophical tradition in which imagination was most important, the Aristotelian tradition, and the body of medieval literature in which imagination was most prominent, this book focuses on medieval thought about imagination to link two bodies of writing. Imagination is familiar as an affective power, but not as a cognitive one. One is better positioned to appreciate the role that imagination occupies not only in gospel meditations, but in medieval culture more broadly by understanding its positive features along with its negative ones.

Keywords: imagination; Middle Ages; hostile; suspicious; distrustful; medieval imagination; affective power

Chapter.  9932 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (Early and Medieval)

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