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Dreams, Dreamers, and Visions

The Early Modern Atlantic World

Edited by Ann Marie Plane and Leslie Tuttle. Foreword by Anthony F. C. Wallace

Publication Year: 2013

In Europe and North and South America during the early modern period, people believed that their dreams might be, variously, messages from God, the machinations of demons, visits from the dead, or visions of the future. Interpreting their dreams in much the same ways as their ancient and medieval forebears had done—and often using the dream-guides their predecessors had written—dreamers rejoiced in heralds of good fortune and consulted physicians, clerics, or practitioners of magic when their visions waxed ominous. Dreams, Dreamers, and Visions traces the role of dreams and related visionary experiences in the cultures within the Atlantic world from the late thirteenth to early seventeenth centuries, examining an era of cultural encounters and transitions through this unique lens.

In the wake of Reformation-era battles over religious authority and colonial expansion into Asia, Africa, and the Americas, questions about truth and knowledge became particularly urgent and debate over the meaning and reliability of dreams became all the more relevant. Exploring both indigenous and European methods of understanding dream phenomena, this volume argues that visions were central to struggles over spiritual and political authority. Featuring eleven original essays, Dreams, Dreamers, and Visions explores the ways in which reports and interpretations of dreams played a significant role in reflecting cultural shifts and structuring historic change.

Contributors: Emma Anderson, Mary Baine Campbell, Luis Corteguera, Matthew Dennis, Carla Gerona, María V Jordán, Luís Filipe Silvério Lima, Phyllis Mack, Ann Marie Plane, Andrew Redden, Janine Rivière, Leslie Tuttle, Anthony F. C. Wallace.

Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press


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pp. 1-3

Title Page

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pp. 4-4

Copyright Page

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pp. 5-5


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pp. v-vi

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Foreword. Xanadu: Dreams of the Dark Side of Paradise

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pp. vii-xiv

Some years ago, when I was a freshman at Lebanon Valley College, I took the required introductory course in English literature. The professor, who happened to be my father, required the class to memorize what he called ‘‘neck verses,’’ brief passages from important writers, that hopefully would...

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Introduction: The Literatures of Dreaming

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pp. 1-30

Could it be that the rationalism of Western modernity was inspired by a dream? In 1619, a twenty-three-year-old soldier named René Descartes separated himself from society to undertake a kind of personal philosophical retreat. More than fifteen years would pass before Descartes published...

Part I: European Theories, Politics, and Experiences of Dreaming

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Chapter 1: The Inner Eye: Early Modern Dreaming and Disembodied Sight

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pp. 33-48

The eye was not always a camera, its powers not always nor merely mechanical. But during the period in which it first came to be understood as such, that model sustained a partially articulated move in elite circles toward a sense of vision as located in, and restricted to, the individual conscious...

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Chapter 2: Demons of Desire or Symptoms of Disease? Medical Theories and Popular Experiences of the ''Nightmare' in Premodern England

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pp. 49-71

Terrifying dreams frequently wakened early modern English men and women from their sleep. On July 16, 1658, Thomas Vaughan, a Welsh alchemist and cleric residing at Oxford, had the following nightmare: ‘‘I was pursued by a stone horse . . . and I was griviously troubled all night with a...

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Chapter 3: Competition and Confirmation in the Iberian Prophetic Community: The 1589 Invasion of Portugal in the Dreams of Lucrecia de León

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pp. 72-87

On May 1, 1589, Lucrecia de León, a young woman of Madrid whose talent as a prophetess had gained her considerable fame in the streets of the city and even among certain circles of the nobility, dreamed that a man had transported her to the northern Spanish port of La Coruña, where she witnessed Sir Francis Drake and his men attacking the city. According to her...

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Chapter 4: The Peasant Who Went to Hell: Dreams and Visions in Early Modern Spain

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pp. 88-103

In 1621, a Capuchin friar named Francesc de Canet read a copy of the trial before the Barcelona tribunal of the Inquisition of a peasant named Pere Porter, who claimed to have visited hell, where he found formerly powerful men, both lay and religious.1 Intrigued that the Inquisition had found Porter...

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Chapter 5: Dreams and Prophecies: The Fifth Empire of Father Antonio Vieira and Messianic Visions of the Bragança Dynasty in Seventeenth-Century Portugal and Brazil

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pp. 104-122

In 1699, two years after his death, Father Antonio Vieira (1608–97) appeared in the dreams of his fellow Jesuit and old friend Father José Suares. On his deathbed in Salvador da Bahia, capital of the state of Brazil, Suares dreamed he was crying and Vieira was drying his tears. With this...

Part II: Intercultural Encounter

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Chapter 6: Flying Like an Eagle: Franciscan and Caddo Dreams and Visions

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pp. 125-146

When the Spanish marched into east Texas in the late 1600s, a large convoy of soldiers and priests brought horses, cattle, and trade goods; in addition, the missionaries came armed with their visions. Early on the Franciscans from the Colegio Apostólico de Propagande Fide (Apostolic College to...

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Chapter 7: Dream-Visions and Divine Truth in Early Modern Hispanic America

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pp. 147-165

The early modern Hispanic world was one in which the boundaries between reality, imagination, and delusion frequently blurred, sometimes imperceptibly. 1 The apparently active presence of spiritual entities made it harder to discern these boundaries and so, while many in Hispano-American society...

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Chapter 8: French Jesuits and Indian Dreams in Seventeenth-Century New France

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pp. 166-184

On the evening of August 5, 1671, thousands of stylish Parisians gathered before the stage at the Collège de Clermont in Paris for the prestigious Jesuit school’s annual theater performance. That year, the main event was a five-act tragedy about the Old Testament king Belshazzar and divine...

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Chapter 9: ''My Spirit Found a Unity with This Holy Man'': A Nun's Visions and the Negotiation of Pain and Power in Seventeenth-Century New France

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pp. 185-204

It was in these imposing terms that Catherine de Saint-Augustin, a young Hospitalière nun in 1662 Québec, first envisioned Jean de Brébeuf, the deceased Jesuit missionary who was to be, for the last six years of her life, her spiritual mentor and celestial director from beyond the grave. Though...

Part III: The Eighteenth Century: Prophecy and Revival

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Chapter 10: The Unbounded Self: Dreaming and Identity in the British Enlightenment

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pp. 207-225

John Rutty (1697–1775) was an Irish physician and Quaker elder whose diary was unique in being published as written, at his own insistence, without being censored by the Quaker leadership. The diary contains an extraordinarily detailed, day-by-day account of Rutty’s struggle to overcome his...

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Chapter 11: Visions of Handsome Lake: Seneca Dreams, Prophecy, and the Second Great Awakening

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pp. 226-244

With these words, the Quaker missionary Halliday Jackson narrated the genesis of a new Seneca religion. He employed an archaic, biblical language to mark the seriousness of his purpose and the larger historic moment.1 Not just among the Senecas, but also throughout the United States, Americans were beginning to undergo revivals, experiment with communitarianism...


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pp. 245-300

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 301-304

List of Contributors

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pp. 305-308


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pp. 309-316


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pp. 332-332

E-ISBN-13: 9780812208047
E-ISBN-10: 0812208048
Print-ISBN-13: 9780812245042
Print-ISBN-10: 0812245040

Page Count: 328
Publication Year: 2013

OCLC Number: 857879004
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Dreams, Dreamers, and Visions

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Subject Headings

  • Dreams -- North Atlantic Region -- History -- 16th century.
  • Dreams -- North Atlantic Region -- History -- 17th century.
  • Dreams -- North Atlantic Region -- History -- 18th century.
  • Dream interpretation -- North Atlantic Region -- History -- 16th century.
  • Dream interpretation -- North Atlantic Region -- History -- 17th century.
  • Dream interpretation -- North Atlantic Region -- History -- 18th century.
  • Visions -- North Atlantic Region -- History -- 16th century.
  • Visions -- North Atlantic Region -- History -- 17th century.
  • Visions -- North Atlantic Region -- History -- 18th century.
  • North Atlantic Region -- Civilization -- History -- 16th century.
  • North Atlantic Region -- Civilization -- History -- 17th century.
  • North Atlantic Region -- Civilization -- History -- 18th century.
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