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Reviewed by:
  • Pilgrims and Pilgrimage: Journey, Spirituality and Daily Life through the Centuries
  • Paul E. Larson
Pilgrims and Pilgrimage: Journey, Spirituality and Daily Life through the Centuries. Ed. Dee Dyas. Interactive CD-ROM. Nottingham, UK: St. John's College, 2009. ISBN 0955067316 and 9780955067310. A Christianity and Culture Resource.

Pilgrims and Pilgrimage is a wonderful example of what digital resources have the potential to be: useful, illustrative, in-depth, expansive, informative, colorful and entertaining. Built on a browser platform, this interactive CD-ROM is compatible with all major browsers including Explorer, Safari, Firefox and Netscape, and with Mac and PC platforms. Both JavaScript and QuickTime are necessary for all of the features of this digital tour through pilgrimage in England to function properly. That said, the technical aspects of this delightful examination of pilgrimage and Christianity in England's Middle Ages function smoothly and rapidly, and the learning curve for moving between sections is fast and intuitive. Buttons and links are easy to learn and manipulate as one moves between texts and images. The CD-ROM's many resources include an image gallery, key primary texts, and a bibliography. Extensive attention has been paid to eliminating technical glitches and interactive dead ends. A toolbar at the bottom of each screen (fig. 1) allows quick access to an extensive encyclopedia/ glossary, the image gallery, and primary text sources.

The end result of this collaboration between more than fifty contributors, editors and writers is a global view of pilgrimage from its inception to the present day, focusing primarily on how pilgrimage developed in England during the Middle Ages, became a world-wide phenomenon, and affected the spiritual life of Christians for almost a thousand years.. The project includes extensive essays on medieval Christianity, including the lives of the saints, anchorites and other important figures who played a role in the development of pilgrimage throughout Europe. The editor, Dee Dyas, has left nothing to chance. The adventure of studying pilgrims and pilgrimage begins with the most basic definitions of who and what pilgrims are, leading to an equally in-depth definition of what a pilgrimage can or might be. Definitions are accompanied by a series of texts and images that illustrate the importance of social and historical contexts for developing a working definition of those terms. Using JavaScript, the editor has created a series of "dialogue balloons" that pop up as the user rolls the cursor over red-highlighted words. [End Page 315]

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Fig. 1.

Screen with "quick menu" option.

The CD-ROM may be accessed in two different ways: "Full Interactive Contents," which means the user takes full advantage of the hyperlinks to jump from section to section, guided by what they might find intriguing or thematic, and "Full Expanded Contents," which gives users the opportunity to have a more "book-like" linear experience of going through each section in a more deliberate and traditional fashion. There are five main sections: Introduction, Pilgrimage in Early Christian Spirituality, Patterns of Pilgrimage in England c. 600-c.110, Patterns of Christian Spirituality in England c.1100-c.1500, and An Ongoing Legacy. Two different navigation bars, one at the top and one at the bottom, allow users to move freely about the five different sections; ironically, users may always go "home" and start over whenever they feel the need (Fig. 2). The software is extremely user-friendly, and it is never difficult to find any particular subject as it pertains to pilgrimage.

The image gallery is of particular interest to both students and professors; the editors have amassed an extensive variety of photographs, illuminations, paintings, sketches and illustrations that cover the extensive history of pilgrimage, including the road to Santiago and pilgrimage in other cultures. Drawn from sources as diverse as the Bodleian Library, the British Library and Elvis Presley Enterprises Inc., the images are a strong reminder of the ubiquitous nature of pilgrimage and how it permeates popular culture, crossing borders and creating a constant presence in almost all faith traditions from Christian, Jewish or Muslim to Buddhist, Japanese or Hindu. Special attention has been paid to adding "zoom-able" images of some manuscripts so that...


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pp. 315-317
Launched on MUSE
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