Mystical Song and Musical Postures in Late Medieval England: Text, Self, Performance


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships


English Language and Literature


This dissertation argues that musica celestis, heavenly music or mystical song, is central to much of the devotional and mystical literature of the Late Medieval period in England. Mystical song is produced by God or his angels and is normally only audible to saints and those without bodies, though devout humans may also experience it on earth. Mystical song connects the human to a direct experience of divinity, and by aiding in the transgression of corporeal and mental boundaries, articulates the self it transgresses. Mystical song operates in the production of nonfiction and it is also central to the greatest works of Medieval English literature, from William Langland's Piers Plowman to Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde.