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Spring 2024


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New in Speculum: A Journal of Medieval Studies
A Review of Dissimilar Similitudes

In the latest issue of Speculum: A Journal of Medieval Studies, Wei-Cheng Lin reviews Caroline Walker Bynum’s Dissimilar Similitudes: Devotional Objects in Late Medieval Europe. Click here to learn more about the book. Click here to access the review. An excerpt appears below:

“All religions need things to experience sacredness and to express religious experiences. However, the later Middle Ages is characterized by a growing abundance of holy things, to such an extent that the spiritual experience was increasingly ‘literalized into encounter with objects’ that conveyed the power and re-presented the Other. For a medieval worshipper, using things to communicate the reality beyond or outside the here and now is neither rhetoric nor arbitrary. Devotional objects studied in this book are considered to possess religious efficacy precisely in their specific materiality and capacity to point to, refer to, or evoke in the worshiper the unrepresentable—that is, their ‘likeness’ to the holy Other. In this book, the issue at stake is not materiality, which Bynum has addressed in her Christian Materiality (2011). Instead, it inquires into ways in which medieval Christian worshippers used earthly stuff, by virtue of its similitude, ‘to mediate between earth and heaven, representing or communicating each to the other.’”