© 2019

Touching, Devotional Practices, and Visionary Experience in the Late Middle Ages

  • David Carrillo-Rangel
  • Delfi I. Nieto-Isabel
  • Pablo Acosta-García

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xxxii
  2. Unbinding the Body

  3. Wounding the Spiritual Self

  4. Seizing Nothingness

  5. Back Matter
    Pages 267-276

About this book


This book addresses the history of the senses in relation to affective piety and its role in devotional practices in the late Middle Ages, focusing on the sense of touch. It argues that only by deeply analysing this specific context of perception can the full significance of sensory religious experience in the Late Middle Ages be understood. Considering the centrality of the body to medieval society and Christianity, this collection explores a range of devotional practices, mainly relating to the Passion of Christ, and features manuscripts, works of devotional literature, art, woodcuts and judicial records. It brings together a multidisciplinary group of scholars to offer a variety of methodological approaches, in order to understand how touch was encoded, evoked and purposefully used. The book further considers how touch was related to the medieval theory of perception, examining its relation to the inner and outer senses through the eyes of visionaries, mystics, theologians and confessors, not only as praxis but from different theoretical points of view. While considered the most basic of spiritual experience, the chapters in this book highlight the all-pervasive presence of touch and the significance of ‘affective piety’ to Late Medieval Christians.

Chapter 3: Drama, Performance and Touch in the Medieval Convent and Beyond is Open Access under a CC BY 4.0 license at 


Affective piety Passion of Christ Christianity Body Visionaries Mystics Theologians Touch History of the senses Medieval Martyrdom Spiritual experience

Editors and affiliations

  • David Carrillo-Rangel
    • 1
  • Delfi I. Nieto-Isabel
    • 2
  • Pablo Acosta-García
    • 3
  1. 1.Universitetet i BergenBergenNorway
  2. 2.Institute for Research on Medieval CulturesUniversity of BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  3. 3.Heinrich-Heine-Universität-DüsseldorfDüsseldorfGermany

About the editors

David Carrillo-Rangel is a PhD Fellow at the University of Bergen, Norway. He co-edited the volume Sensual and Sensory Experiences in the Middle Ages (2017).

Delfi I. Nieto-Isabel is an Associate Researcher at the Institute for Research on Medieval Cultures (IRCVM) at the University of Barcelona, Spain.

Pablo Acosta-García is a Marie Curie Fellow at Heinrich-Heine-Düsseldorf-University, Germany, with the project Late Medieval Visionary Women’s Impact in Early Modern Castilian Spiritual Tradition (WIMPACT).

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Touching, Devotional Practices, and Visionary Experience in the Late Middle Ages
  • Editors David Carrillo-Rangel
    Delfi I. Nieto-Isabel
    Pablo Acosta-García
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2019
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, Cham
  • eBook Packages History History (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-3-030-26028-6
  • Softcover ISBN 978-3-030-26031-6
  • eBook ISBN 978-3-030-26029-3
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XXXII, 276
  • Number of Illustrations 0 b/w illustrations, 30 illustrations in colour
  • Topics History of Medieval Europe
    History of Religion
    Social History
    Literary History
  • Buy this book on publisher's site


“The authors of Touching, Devotional Practices, and Visionary Experiences have come together to produce a very impressive piece of work that advances the study of embodiment in medieval Christianity while also offering scholars of material religion in any historical period and place a critically-minded resource. This is a deeply learned, enormously suggestive book that merits wide attention.” (David Morgan, Duke University, USA)

“This collection, which is refreshingly coherent in both its aims and structure, employs new critical perspectives that recognise the intrinsic importance of the sense of touch in its medieval devotional context. Considering how touch brings bodies into contact with other bodies, material objects and the world in physical and conceptual terms, the present contributions bring the importance of embodied practice to the forefront of a dynamic field of inquiry.” (Sarah Jane Brazil, University of Geneva, Switzerland)

Touching, Devotional Practices, and Visionary Experiences in the Late Middle Ages is a long-awaited book that draws upon both theoretical premise and the evidence of concrete materiality in order to progress and contemporise traditional studies of medieval affect and its often-overlooked tactility in the context of popular forms of devotion and visionary experience. In particular, the array of what constitutes at times dazzling contributions, by both seasoned scholars and those relatively new to the field, serves to deepen our understanding of the covert, and often queer, operations of the haptic within medieval devotional affective practice, whilst casting it in an innovative dialogic frame that allows it to reach out achronically to touch the now.” (Liz Herbert McAvoy, Swansea University, UK)