The author would like to thank Arnold Davidson, John Martin, and Pamela Smith for stimulating conversations that suggested to me the topic of this address. She would also like to thank Lorraine Daston, Jeffrey Hamburger, Katharine Park, Edward Peters, and Stephen D. White for generously sharing their unpublished work, Joel Kaye, Guenther Roth, and Dorothea von Mücke for thoughtful readings, Kathy Eden for advice about Renaissance literary theory, and Philippe Buc and Jennifer Howard for help with the photographs.

1. Marino is quoted in James V. Mirollo, “The Aesthetics of the Marvelous: The Wondrous Work of Art in a Wondrous World,” in Joy Kenseth, ed., The Age of the Marvelous (Hanover, N.H., 1991), 61. Marino was speaking of poets.

2. Stephen Spender, The Year of the Young Rebels (New York, 1969), 42.

3. Patricia Nelson Limerick, “Turnerians All: The Dream of a Helpful History in an Intelligible World,” AHR 100 (June 1995): 697–716, esp. 704–12. For the same point made by an anthropologist, see Sherry B. Ortner, “Resistance and the Problem of Ethnographic Refusal,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 37 (1995): 173–93; her phrase for the danger is “thinning culture.”

4. John E. Toews, “Intellectual History after the Linguistic Turn,” AHR 92 (October 1987): 879–907, esp. 906.

5. For example, Stephen Greenblatt, Marvelous Possessions: The Wonder of the New World (Chicago, 1991); Lorraine Daston and Katharine Park, Wonders and the Order of Nature, 1150–1750 (New York, forthcoming); and Kenseth, Age of the Marvelous. In what follows, I have been greatly assisted and instructed by Daston and Park’s magisterial study; I differ from them above all in including miracles and portents in my discussion of “wonder.”

6. According to Todorov, “the marvelous” is a genre in which characters accept the supernatural; in the “strange” or “uncanny,” it is rationalized; in the “grotesque” or “fantastic,” characters vacillate between natural explanation and acceptance of the supernatural as supernatural. See Tzvetan Todorov, Introduction à la littérature fantastique (Paris, 1970), esp. 28–62. Medievalists have disagreed about whether Todorov’s categories should be applied to medieval works of the imagination. See, for example, Jacques Le Goff, “The Marvelous in the Medieval West,” in The Medieval Imagination, Arthur Goldhammer, trans. (Chicago, 1988), 27–44, esp. 34; Lucienne Carasso-Bulow, The Merveilleux in Chrétien de Troyes’ Romances (Geneva, 1976), 11–17; Francis Dubost, Aspects fantastiques de la littérature narrative médievale (XIIe–XIIIe siècles): L’autre, l’ailleurs, l’autrefois (Geneva, 1991), esp. 3–29. 1 have more sympathy with those such as Francis Dubost who argue that we can use modern critical notions of response and framing to identify a medieval “fantastic” than with those who would rule such analysis inappropriate.
Paul Freedman has recently suggested that work in medieval cultural history divides between presentism and a taste for the grotesque: “The Return of the Grotesque in Medieval Historiography,” in Historia a Debate: Medieval, Carlos Barros and Carlos Aguirre Rojas, eds. (Santiago de Compostela, 1995), 9–19. He has in mind the ordinary language usage of “grotesque,” not the one under discussion in literary theory.

7. Wallace K. Ferguson, in The Renaissance in Historical Thought: Five Centuries of Interpretation (Boston, 1948), called the efforts of medievalists to recapture the idea of “renaissance” for various medieval cultural revivals “the revolt of the medievalists”; see 329–85.

8. See, for example, Ronald C. Finucane, Appearances of the Dead: A Cultural History of Ghosts (London, 1982); Claude Kappler, Monstres, demons et merveilles à la fin du moyen âge (Paris, 1980); Claude Lecouteux, Les monstres dans la pensée médiévale européenne: Essai de présentation (Paris, 1993); Michel Meslin, ed., Le merveilleux: L’imaginaire et les croyances en Occident (n.p., 1984); Daniel Poirion, Le merveilleux dans la littérature française du moyen âge (Paris, 1982), esp. 82; Paul Rousset, “Le sens du merveilleux à l’époque féodale,” Le moyen âge 62, 4th ser., no. 11 (1956): 25–37; Jean-Claude Schmitt, Les revenants: Les vivants et les morts dans la société médiévale (Paris, 1994); Pierre-André Sigal, L’homme et le miracle dans la France médiévale (XIe–XIIe siècle) (Paris, 1985); R. W. Southern, “The Place of England in Twelfth-Century Renaissance,” reprinted in his Medieval Humanism (New York, 1970), 158–80, see esp. 171–74; Benedicta Ward, Miracles and the Medieval Mind: Theory, Record and Event, 1000–1215 (Aldershot, 1982). Philippe M6nard, in “Le monde médiéval: Les curiosités profanes,” in Meslin, Le merveilleux, 32, comments: “Le merveilleux a connu son âge d’or au XIIIesiècle.”

9. Historians have tended to depict medieval enthusiasm for the marvelous either as extreme emotionality and credulity or as a site of resistance to clerical culture. Marc Bloch and Johan Huizinga, for example, characterized the Middle Ages as more “emotional” than modern times: Bloch, Feudal Society, L. A. Manyon, trans. (Chicago, 1961), 73; and Huizinga, The Autumn of the Middle Ages, Rodney J. Payton and Ulrich Mammitzsch, trans. (Chicago, 1996), 1–9. On this point, see Jean-Claude Schmitt, “‘Façons de sentir et de penser’: Un tableau de la civilisation ou un histoire-problème,” in Marc Bloch aujourd’hui: Histoire comparée et sciences sociales, Hartmut Atsma and André Burguière, eds. (Paris, 1990), 409–19; and Stephen D. White, “The Politics of Anger,” in Wrath and Righteousness: The Social Uses of Anger in the Middle Ages, Barbara Rosenwein, ed. (Ithaca, forthcoming). For magic, marvel, and folk tale as resistance to elite culture, see Le Goff, “Marvelous,” 27–44; and Laurence Harf-Lancner, “La métamorphose illusoire: Des théories chrétiennes de la métamorphose aux images médiévales du loup-garou,” Annales: Economies, sociétés, civilisations 40 (1985): 208–26. I am uncomfortable with the assumption that we can clearly distinguish popular and clerical cultures in the surviving documents.
The phrase “le moyen âge qui baigne dans le merveilleux” is from Roger Caillois, Images, images: Essais sur le rôle et les pouvoirs de l’imagination (Paris, 1966), 28.

10. I am using here something like the distinction suggested by Stearns and Stearns between “emotionology” (formal psychological theories plus widely held and explicit values) and “emotions” (behavior and reactions), although I find the terminology awkward; see Carol Z. Stearns and Peter N. Stearns, eds., Emotion and Social Change: Toward a New Psychohistory (New York, 1988), esp. 7. For recent work in the history of emotions, see n. 58 below.

11. I have explained my own position on the complicated issue of presentism and the difference between responsible and irresponsible use of analogies from the past in “Why All the Fuss about the Body? A Medievalist’s Perspective,” Critical Inquiry 22 (Autumn 1995): 27–31.

12. Paula Findlen, Possessing Nature: Museums, Collecting, and Scientific Culture in Early Modern Italy (Berkeley, Calif., 1994); Greenblatt, Marvelous Possessions; and Edward Peters, “The Desire to Know the Secrets of the World” (forthcoming). See also J. H. Elliott, The Old World and the New, 1492–1650 (Cambridge, 1970); and Oliver Impey and Arthur MacGregor, eds., The Origins of Museums: The Cabinet of Curiosities in Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-Century Europe (Oxford, 1985).

13. The phrase from Columbus, which gave Edward Peters the title for his wonderful essay cited above, is found in Cesare de Lollis, ed., Scritti di Cristoforo Colombo, 2 vols. (Genoa, 1892–94), 2.1: 79. José de Acosta’s statement comes from his Historia natural y moral de las Indias, Edmundo O’Gorman, ed., 2d edn. (Mexico City, 1962), 112, quoted in Elliott, Old World and New, 30–31.

14. See, for example, Daston and Park, Wonders and the Order of Nature; and Ward, Miracles and the Medieval Mind, 6–8.

15. Thomas Aquinas, On the Power of God, the English Dominican Fathers, trans., 3 vols. (London, 1933), questio 6, art. 2, 2: 162–64; De potentia Dei, in S. Thomae Aquinatis Opera Omnia, Robert Busa, ed. (Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt, 1980), vol. 3: Quaestiones disputatae, p. 232.

16. Hence Francis Bacon, writing in 1605, would call wonder the “seed of knowledge”; see Bacon, The Advancement of Learning and Novum Organum, J. E. Creighton, intro. (New York, 1899), 4. Bacon also said (p. 5): “the contemplation of God’s works produces knowledge ... with regard to him; not perfect knowledge but wonder, which is broken knowledge.” For major medieval figures in this tradition, see below at n. 33. Some scholars would date the tendency to rationalize the marvelous as far back as Adelard of Bath in the early twelfth century.

17. René Descartes, The Passions of the Soul, S. Voss, trans. (Indianapolis, Ind., 1989), pt. 2, arts. 70 and 53, quotations at pp. 56‑57 and 52 respectively.

18. Descartes, Passions of the Soul, art. 71, pp. 57–58. Compare the treatment in Albert the Great’s commentary on Aristotle’s Metaphysics; Albertus Magnus, Metaphysica libri quinque priores, Bernard Geyer, ed., bk. 1, tract. 2, c. 6, in Albertus, Opera omnia, Institutum Alberti Magni Coloniense, ed., 37 vols. (Münster, 1951– ), 16.1: 23, which gives a physiological description of admiratio. J. V. Cunningham, Woe or Wonder: The Emotional Effect of Shakespearean Tragedy (Denver, Colo., 1951), 79–80, and Greenblatt, Marvelous Possessions, 81, 176–77, have recently made much of this passage, but it is also important to note, as Daston and Park point out, that admiratio here is a kind of fear. See also Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologica, the English Dominican Fathers, trans., 3 vols. (New York, 1947), IIa IIae, q. 41, art. 4, 1: 766–67, and IIa IIae, q. 180, art. 3, 2: 1932–33.

19. See, for example, Rom Harré, “An Outline of the Social Constructionist Viewpoint,” and Claire Armon-Jones, “The Thesis of Constructionism,” in Rom Harré, ed., The Social Construction of Emotions (Oxford, 1986), esp. 2–3, 34, 40. For a neo-Darwinian and unabashedly reductionist interpretation, see John Onians, “‘I Wonder ...’: A Short History of Amazement,” in Sight and Insight: Essays on Art and Culture in Honour of E. H. Gombrich at 85, John Onians, ed. (London, 1994), 11–34.

20. Stephen Greenblatt, in his moving essay “Resonance and Wonder,” in Exhibiting Cultures: The Poetics and Politics of Museum Display, I. Karp and S. D. Lavine, eds. (Washington, D.C., 1991), 42–56, contrasts “wonder,” or the power to stop viewers in their tracks, with “resonance,” the evoking of cultural context. Although I am in sympathy with Greenblatt’s valuing of both the particular and its context, I would suggest that his formulation of “wonder” is early modern, even Darwinian, and that a medieval understanding would include what he calls “resonance” in “wonder.”

21. Aristotle’s Poetics, which might have stimulated such discussion, was virtually unknown until the fifteenth century. His Rhetoric, available in Latin after the mid-thirteenth century, was generally understood as a book of moral philosophy, not a guide to composition or preaching. It associated wonder with pleasure and desire, also with the unfamiliar and foreign (see bk. 1, c. 11, and bk. 3, c. 2); see James J. Murphy, Medieval Rhetoric: A Select Bibliography (Toronto, 1971), 35; Murphy, “Introduction,” in his edition of Three Medieval Rhetorical Arts (Berkeley, Calif., 1971), xv; and John O. Ward, “From Antiquity to Renaissance: Glosses and Commentaries on Cicero’s Rhetorica,” in James J. Murphy, ed., Medieval Eloquence: Studies in the Theory and Practice of Medieval Rhetoric (Berkeley, 1978), 55. Giles of Rome’s thirteenth-century commentary on the Rhetoric—one of the few to treat the entire work—pays only scant attention to the two crucial passages on wonder but does, in its brief treatment, stress the element of delight; see Aegidius Romanus [Giles of Rome], Commentaria in Rhetoricam Aristotelis (Venice, 1515; facs. rpt., Frankfurt, 1968), fols. 38v–39v and 92v.

22. Discourses can be distinguished by subject matter, by genre, by the institutional location of authors, etc. I am using a combination of these factors.

23. I have excluded the romance from consideration because the genre itself dictates a certain matter-of-factness of response, the analysis of which is a complex matter of literary interpretation; see the works cited in n. 6 above, and Morton Bloomfield, “Episodic Motivation and Marvels in Epic and Romance,” in Essays and Explorations: Studies in Ideas, Language and Literature (Cambridge, Mass., 1970), 96–128.

24. In the medieval Germanic tongues (Anglo-Saxon, Old Frisian, middle High German), the word is wunder, from the Indo-European uen (or “desire”); in medieval Latin, the term is admiratio, whose root in Latin mir implies “seeing” (and goes back to an Indo-European word for “smile”) and whose legacy in the Romance tongues gave French by the twelfth century the term “merveille” and Middle English a little later “marveyle.” See Le Goff, “Marvelous,” 27–29; Claude Lecouteux, “Introduction à 1’étude du merveilleux médiéval,” Etudes germaniques 36 (1981): 273–90; Dubost, Aspects fantastiques, 31–88; and James P. Biester, “Strange and Admirable: Style and Wonder in the Seventeenth Century” (PhD dissertation, Columbia University, 1990), 7–9.

25. Writing in the early thirteenth century, Caesarius of Heisterbach gave the classic definition of miracle in his Dialogus miraculorum, J. Strange, ed., 2 vols. (Cologne, 1851), distinctio 10, c. 1, 2: 217: “What is a miracle? ... We call a miracle whatever is done contrary to the usual course of nature [contra solitum cursum naturae], hence we wonder.”

26. Aristotle, Metaphysics, Hippocrates G. Apostle, trans. (Bloomington, Ind., 1966), book A 983a II. 13–21, p. 16.

27. Augustine of Hippo, De civitate Dei, B. Dombart and A. Kalb, eds., Corpus christianorum: series latina, 48 (Turnhout, 1955), bk. 21, cc. 8 and 4, pp. 771 and 761–63 respectively. (The example of lime had a long history already when Augustine used it.) For a later citation, see Gervais of Tilbury, Otia imperialia, in G. W. Leibniz, ed., Scriptores rerum Brunvicensium, 3 vols. (Hanover, 1701–11), decisio 3, c. 2, 1: 961.

28. Augustine, De utilitate credendi, c. 16, in Augustini opera omnia, in Patrologiae cursus completus: series latina, J.-P. Migne, ed., 221 vols. (Paris, 1841–64) [hereafter, PL], 42: col. 90.

29. Anselm of Canterbury, De conceptu virginali et originali peccato, c. 11, in Opera omnia, Francis S. Schmitt, ed., 6 vols. (1940–61; rpt. edn., Stuttgart, 1984), 2: 153–54. Both this passage and Augustine’s definition from De utilitate credendi are used by Aquinas, in On the Power of God, q. 6, art. 2, 2: 162–64. The contrast went back to Plato; see Marie-Dominique Chenu, La théologie au douzième siècle (Paris, 1957), 44–50.

30. See Aquinas, On the Power of God, q. 6, art. 2, 2: 164; and De potentia, Busa, ed., p. 232. And see n. 25 above for Caesarius of Heisterbach.

31. Ward, Miracles and the Medieval Mind, 3–32; John Hardon, “The Concept of Miracle from St. Augustine to Modern Apologetics,” Theological Studies 15 (1954): 229–57; and Bernhard Bron, Das Wunder: Das theologische Wunderverständnis im Horizont des neuzeitlichen Natur- und Geschichtsbegriffs (Göttingen, 1975), 14–16. See also Eberhard Demm, “Zur Rolle des Wunders in der Heiligkeitskonzeption des Mittelalters,” Archiv für Kulturgeschichte 57 (1975): 300–44.
By about 1200, a clear terminological distinction was emerging in Latin between mirabilia (wonders or marvels), miracula (miracles), and phantasmata (phantasms or fantasies), although the reaction admiratio was not limited to any single category of event. Somewhat later, the vernaculars came to sort out the terms also. For example, in the Showings of the fifteenth-century mystic Julian of Norwich, there is a clear and consistent terminological distinction (although no consistency in the spelling of terms) between miracle (meracle), which is done by God directly or through the saints outside the ordinary course of nature, marvels (marvelye, merveyle), which are mysteries or natural things of great significance, and phantasms or hallucinations (raving), which are evil and false appearances owing to demons.

32. Natural causes may, however, be manipulated by demons or magicians with God’s permission; see Aquinas, Summa theologica, IIa IIae, q. 178, art. 2, 2: 1925–26. This position allowed for a comfortable distinguishing of magic and miracle, while admitting—as theologians felt compelled to do on the basis of scriptural evidence—that magic happened.

33. Nicole Oresme, De causis, c. 1, in Nicole Oresme and the Marvels of Nature: A Study of His De causis mirabilium, Bert Hansen, ed. (Toronto, 1985), 160–63; for the quotations from William of Auvergne’s De universo and the pseudo-Albert’s Liber de mirabilibus mundi, see 51 n. 3 and 61 n. 36.

34. See, for example, Oresme, De causis, c. 3, pp. 206–07, 210–13, 216–19, 222–23. In c. 4, pp. 278–79, Oresme observes, “Who but God alone knows in how many ways two sticks can be unequal?” And in his Recapitulatio, pp. 360–61, he summarizes his argument thus: “[I]t is not necessary to have recourse because of the diversity and marvelousness of effects [diversitatem effectuum et mirabilitatem] to the heavens and unknown influence, or to demons, or to our glorious God ... since it has been sufficiently demonstrated in the above chapters that effects just as marvelous (or nearly so) are found here below.”

35. On Roger Bacon’s arguments concerning those who live without eating, see my Holy Feast and Holy Fast: The Religious Significance of Food to Medieval Women (Berkeley, Calif., 1987), 88; on the resurrection, see The Opus Majus of Roger Bacon, R. B. Burke, trans., 2 vols. (Philadelphia, 1928), pt. 6, 2: 617–25; on charms and amulets, see pt. 3, c. 14, and pt. 4, 1: 112–15, 409–11. On the Eucharist, the magnet, the bent twigs, and the housefly, see pt. 7, 2: 820–22; pt. 6, c. 12, 2: 630–31; and pt. 1, c. 10, 1: 24, respectively. And see Fratris Rogeri Bacon Opus majus, S. Jebb, ed. (London, 1733), 474.

36. For Albert, see n. 18 above. For Oresme on the physiology of pleasure and fear, see De causis, c. 4, pp. 346–49.

37. Aquinas, Summa theologica, Ia IIae, q. 32, art. 8, 1: 732; Ia IIae, q. 3, art. 8, 1: 601–02; IIIa, q. 30, art. 4, reply to obj. 1, 2: 2182; and IIIa, q. 15, art. 8, 2: 2111, respectively. Concerning Christ’s wonder he said: “Hence, if we speak of Christ with respect to His Divine Knowledge, and His beatific and even His infused knowledge, there was no wonder in Christ. But if we speak of Him with respect to empiric knowledge, wonder could be in Him; and He assumed this affection for our instruction, i.e. in order to teach us to wonder at what He Himself wondered at” (IIIa, q. 15, art. 8, 2: 2111).

38. On the claim of certain scholastic authors to “de-wonder” remarkable phenomena by providing natural explanations, see Katharine Park, “The Topography of Wonder: Admiratio in Medieval and Renaissance Europe,” Lecture for the University of Bielefeld, June 1993. She cites the phrase from the mid-sixteenth century treatise On the Variety of Things by Girolamo Cardano. For a famous interpretation of twelfth-century wonder that sees it as focused exactly on the regularity of nature, see Chenu, La théologie au douzième siècle, 21–44.

39. André Vauchez, in his influential Les laïcs au moyen âge: Pratiques et expériences religieuses (Paris, 1987), esp. 49–92, argued that medieval saints’ lives shifted around 1150 from an emphasis on miracles and charismatic gifts (which were to be marveled at) to an emphasis on the virtues (which were to be imitated). He has since then (rightly, in my judgment) modified his argument to claim that both threads are present generally in medieval hagiography. See Vauchez, “Saints admirables et saints imitables: Les fonctions de l’hagiographie ont-elles changé aux derniers siècles du moyen âge?” in Les fonctions des saints dans le monde occidental (IIIe–XIIIe siècle) (Palais Farnese, 1991), 161–72. Particularly good on the wonder response to hagiographical accounts are Brigitte Cazelles, Le corps de sainteté d’après Jehan Bouche d’Or, Jehan Paulus, et quelques vies des XIIe et XIIIe siècles (Geneva, 1982); and Michel de Certeau, “Hagiographie,” Encyclopaedia Universalis, 20 vols. (Paris, 1968–75), 8: 207–09.

40. For examples of the topos in medieval hagiography, see Richard Kieckhefer, Unquiet Souls: Fourteenth-Century Saints and Their Religious Milieu (Chicago, 1984), 13–14; and Bynum, Holy Feast and Holy Fast, 85 and 336 n. 82. On the topos of “fleeing the bad and imitating the good,” see Gertrud Simon, “Untersuchungen zur Topik der Widmungsbriefe mittelalterlicher Geschichtsschreiber bis zum Ende des 12. Jahrhunderts,” Archiv für Diplomatik 5–6 (1959‑60): 94–112.
It is fascinating to note, although I cannot deal with the topic here, that the imitatio/admiratio contrast became, in Renaissance aesthetic theory, a contrast between the verisimilar and the marvelous. See Biester, “Strange and Admirable”; Douglas Biow, Mirabile Dictu: Representations of the Marvelous in Medieval and Renaissance Epic (Ann Arbor, Mich., 1996); Cunningham, Woe or Wonder; Baxter Hathaway, Marvels and Commonplaces: Renaissance Literary Criticism (New York, 1968); and Bernard Weinberg, A History of Literary Criticism in the Italian Renaissance, 2 vols. (Chicago, 1961).

41. Augustine, Sermon 280 on Saints Perpetua and Felicity, PL 38: col. 1281.

42. Kieckhefer, Unquiet Souls, 13–14; and Bynum, Holy Feast and Holy Fast, 85 and 336 n. 82.

43. See, for example, Caesarius, Dialogus miraculorum, distinctio 2, c. 3, and distinctio 6, c. 6, 1: 63, 356.

44. See Bernard of Clairvaux, De gradibus humilitatis et superbae, cc. 28–30, in S. Bernardi Opera, J. Leclercq, C. H. Talbot, and H. M. Rochais, eds., 8 vols. (Rome, 1957–77), 3: 38–40; and Bernard, Apologia, c. 29, in Conrad Rudolph, The “Things of Greater Importance”: Bernard of Clairvaux’s Apologia and the Medieval Attitude toward Art (Philadelphia, 1990), appendix 2, 282.

45. In addition to the sermons cited in nn. 48 and 49 below, see Bernard of Clairvaux, Vita sancti Malachiae Episcopi, in Opera, 3: 306–78; De consideratione, bk. 5, sect. 13, cc. 27–32, 3: 489–93; Fourth Sermon for the Vigil of the Nativity, 4: 220–28; Second Sermon for Christmas Day, 4: 251–56; Sermons for St. Benedict and St. Martin, 5: 1–12, 399–412; and the Sermon for St. Andrew, 6: 144–49.

46. Hugh of St. Victor, De institutione novitiorum, c. 7, PL 176: col. 932–33. On Suso, see Jeffrey Hamburger, “‘By Their Fruits You Shall Know Them’: Image, Imitation, and the Reception of Suso’s Exemplar,” Talk for the Branner Forum, Columbia University, April 21, 1996. On imitatio generally, see Robert Javelet, Image et ressemblance au douzième siècle de saint Anselme à Alain de Lille, 2 vols. (Paris, 1967); and Giles Constable, “The Ideal of the Imitation of Christ,” in his Three Studies in Medieval Religious and Social Thought (Cambridge, 1995), 143–248.

47. The best place to see this assumption is in Bernard of Clairvaux’s De gradibus, cc. 1–9, Opera, 3: 16–37, and Bernard, De diligendo Deo, 3: 119–54. For a stimulating interpretation of the medieval sense of alterity that differs from my own, see Karl F. Morrison, “I Am You”: The Hermeneutics of Empathy in Western Literature, Theology and Art (Princeton, N.J., 1988).

48. Bernard of Clairvaux, First Sermon for St. Victor, Opera, 6: 30–31.

49. See Bernard of Clairvaux, Third Sermon for the Vigil of the Nativity, Opera, 4: 211–19, esp. 216–17. Perhaps it is no accident that Bernard, accusing himself of violating the monastic rule by traveling and preaching, called himself the chimera of his age; see M. André Fracheboud, “Je suis la chimère de mon siècle: Le problème action-contemplation au coeur de saint Bernard,” Collectanea ordinis Cisterciensium Reformatorum 16 (1954): 45–52, 128–36, 183–91.

50. Walter Map, De nugis curialium, M. R. James, ed., Anecdota Oxoniensia, Medieval and Modern Series, 14 (Oxford, 1914), distinctio 1, c. 24, p. 39.

51. Map, De nugis, distinctio 1, c. 31, pp. 61–62.

52. William of Newburgh, Historia rerum Anglicarum, Richard Howlett, ed., 2 vols., Rerum Britannicarurn medii aevi scriptores, 82, pts. 1–2 (1884–85; rpt. edn., Wiesbaden, 1964), bk. 1, c. 27; bk. 2, c. 19; bk. 4, c. 6; and bk. 5, c. 33, 1: 82–84, 147–48, 307–08, and 2: 497–99. See also Nancy Partner, Serious Entertainments: The Writing of History in Twelfth-Century England (Chicago, 1977), c. 2.

53. Gervais, Otia, decisio 3, preface and cc. 42 and 92, pp. 960‑61, 974‑75, 991. There is discussion of Gervais and a French translation of book 3 of the Otia in Gervais of Tilbury, Le livre des merveilles, Annie Duchesne, trans., preface by Jacques Le Goff (Paris, 1992).

54. Gervais, Otia, decisio 3, c. 10, p. 963.

55. John of Salisbury, Policraticus, K. S. B. Keats-Rohan, ed., Corpus christianorum: continuatio mediaevalis, 118 (Turnhout, 1993), c. 22, p. 131: “cum admirationem ratio tollit et exemplorum inductio singularitatem excludat.” For the transformation of water to wine as a speed-up of natural processes, see c. 12, pp. 91–92. (The argument went back to Augustine.) Although the explanation naturalizes the miraculous, John also speaks here of venerating and wondering at the richness of the wisdom of God.

56. James of Vitry, Historia orientalis (1597; rpt. edn., Farnborough, Eng., 1971), 215–16 (cited by Daston and Park, Wonders and the Order of Nature, pt. 1, c. 1); and The Travels of Sir John Mandeville with Three Narratives in Illustration of It (1900; rpt. edn., New York, 1964), c. 22, p. 138. On the problems surrounding Mandeville’s text, see Mary B. Campbell, The Witness and the Other World: Exotic European Travel Writing, 400–1600 (Ithaca, N.Y., 1988), c. 4. For Gosswin, see Lecouteux, Les monstres, 11.

57. See “The Journey of William Rubruck,” in Mission to Asia, Christopher Dawson, ed. (1955; rpt. edn., Toronto, 1980), c. 28, p. 150. And see Kappler, Monstres, 219. It is significant that William’s account did not become very popular, probably because of its sober tone.

58. There has recently been debate in the fields of anthropology and history between the social constructivists and those who see emotional reactions as essentially psychobiological processes, with the victory going generally to the constructivists. Related to this is a debate over whether there is a universal core reaction to which we would refer with an emotion-word (for example, “anger”), whether or not a particular culture has a word translatable by our “anger.” See, for example, J. R. Averill, “A Constructivist View of Emotion,” in Theories of Emotion, Robert Plutchik and Henry Kellerman, eds. (New York, 1980), 305–40; Roy G. d’Andrade and Claudia Strauss, eds., Human Motives and Cultural Models (Cambridge, 1992); Harré, “Outline of the Social Constructionist Viewpoint,” 2–14; Armon-Jones, “Thesis of Constructionism,” 32–56; Catherine A. Lutz and Lila Abu-Lughod, eds., Language and the Politics of Emotion (Cambridge, 1990); and Shula Sommers, “Understanding Emotions: Some Interdisciplinary Considerations,” in Stearns and Stearns, Emotion and Social Change, 23–38. Although historians will, by training, tend to reject psychobiological reductionism, they do well to avoid complete constructionism as well, for it tends to leave them unable to make comparisons across cultures and language groups or even across time. The position called “chastened particularism” by my fellow medievalist William I. Miller seems to me the most satisfactory. Miller argues that “even in the absence of a specifically dedicated vocabulary,” emotions that are “not completely congruent with ours” will nonetheless “bear sufficient points in common so that comparison, recognition, and rough mutual understanding are achievable.” This seems to me a sensible assumption with which to conduct research. See William I. Miller, Humiliation and Other Essays on Honor, Social Discomfort, and Violence (Ithaca, N.Y., 1993), 12–13.

59. Bernard, Vita sancti Malachiae, Opera, 3: 307; and see Sermon on St. Martin, Opera, 5: 399–412, which, although it stresses that miracles are to be admired and virtues imitated, nonetheless treats miracles as sources of delight that move us toward imitation. For another example of miracles as a source of delight, see Reginald of Durham, Life of Oswald, bk. 1, c. 44, in Symeonis Monachi Opera omnia, Thomas Arnold, ed., 2 vols., Rerum Britannicarum medii aevi scriptores, 75 (London, 1882–85), 1: 369–70.

60. Liber miraculorum sancte Fidis, Luca Robertini, ed. (Spoleto, 1994). The stories really are quite funny; see, for example, bk. 4, cc. 21 and 28, pp. 255–56 and 263–66. And see Amy G. Remensnyder, “Un problème de cultures ou de culture?: La statue-reliquaire et les joca de sainte Foy de Conques dans le Liber miraculorum de Bernard d’Angers,” Cahiers de civilisation médiévale 33 (1990): 351–79.

61. Gerald of Wales, Topographia Hibernica, J. S. Brewer, ed., in Giraldi Cambrensis Opera, 8 vols., Rerum Britannicarum medii aevi scriptores, 21 (London, 1861), distinctio 1, c. 16, 5: 49: “naturae ludentis opera contulit admiranda.” And see the second preface (for Henry II), 5: 20: “et occultis natura ludit excessibus.” On the bearded woman, see distinctio 2, c. 20, 5: 107; on kingfishers, grasshoppers, and storks, see distinctio 1, cc. 14–21, 5: 51–54.

62. Robert of Basevorn, Forma praedicandi, L. Krul, trans., in Three Medieval Rhetorical Arts, James J. Murphy, ed. (Berkeley, Calif., 1971), 146–47. A number of scholars have pointed out that “wonder” in Tudor-Stuart England tended to include dread: see Cunningham, Woe or Wonder; and Biester, “Strange and Admirable.”

63. Gerald, Topographia Hibernica, d. 2, cc. 19–21, 5: 101–09. And see Harf-Lancner, “La métamorphose illusoire,” 208–26. Isidore of Seville names the “wonderful” as one of five kinds of rhetorical cases and says that (as opposed to “honest cases,” to which we agree immediately, and “humble matters,” which we tend to ignore) the wonderful (admirabile) is that by which the spirit (animus) of the hearer is alienated (alienatus) or shocked; Isidore of Seville, Etimologias: Edición bilingüe, J. Oroz Reta and M.-A. Marcos Casquero, eds., 2 vols. (Madrid, 1982), bk. 2, c. 8, nos. 1–2, 1: 370.

64. On mechanical devices, see Richard Kieckhefer, Magic in the Middle Ages (New York, 1989); William Eamon, “Technology as Magic in the Late Middle Ages and the Renaissance,” Janus: Revue internationale de l’histoire des sciences, de la médecine, de la pharmacie, et de la technique 70 (1983): 171–212; and Merriam Sherwood, “Magic and Mechanics in Medieval Fiction,” Studies in Philology 44 (1947): 567–92. On food, see Bynum, Holy Feast and Holy Fast, 60–61. The thirteenth-century theologian William of Auvergne described a “trick” that would make a house appear full of snakes; see Kieckhefer, Magic, 92.

65. C. N. L. Brooke, “Religious Sentiment and Church Design in the Later Middle Ages,” Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 50 (1967): 13–33; Peter Browe, Die Verehrung der Eucharistie im Mittelalter (Munich, 1933); F. Baix and C. Lambot, La devotion à l’eucharistie et le VIIe centenaire de la Fête-Dieu (Gembloux, 1964); Miri Rubin, Corpus Christi: The Eucharist in Late Medieval Culture (Cambridge, 1991).

66. See Joseph Braun, Die Reliquiare des christlichen Kultes und ihre Entwicklung (Freiburg, 1940), plates 73–81; and the works on museums cited in n. 12 above.

67. Abbot Suger on the Abbey Church of St.-Denis and Its Art Treasures, Erwin Panofsky, ed. and trans., 2d edn. (Princeton, N.J., 1976), 116–19. For another example of wondering at the beauty and richness of both the materials and the craftsmanship of art, see Theophilus, The Divers Arts: The Foremost Medieval Treatise on Painting, Glassmaking and Metalwork, J. G. Hawthorne and C. S. Smith, trans. (1963; rpt. edn., New York, 1979), prologue to bk. 3, pp. 77–80. On wonder at craftsmanship, see Rudolph, Things of Greater Importance, 57–66. On attitudes toward relics, see Caroline W. Bynum, The Resurrection of the Body in Western Christianity, 200–1336 (New York, 1995), 200–25, 318–29.

68. On mystical women, see Bynum, Holy Feast and Holy Fast; on beauty, see Carasso-Bulow, Merveilleux in Chrétien, 16–17. Gerald of Wales marvels at animals—not all animals but those that behave in seemingly purposive ways; see nn. 61 and 63 above, nn. 70 and 81 below.

69. Aelfric, The Homilies of the Anglo-Saxon Church: The Homilies of Aelfric, Benjamin Thorpe, ed., 2 vols. (1844–46; rpt. edn., New York, 1971), 1: 184–86, 292, 304; and see Karen Louise Jolly, Popular Religion in Late Saxon England: Elf Charms in Context (Chapel Hill, N.C., 1996), 82–85. See also Bernard, De consideratione, bk. 5, sect. 13, cc. 27–32, Opera, 3: 489–93, and First Sermon for All Saints, Opera, 5: 330.

70. Gerald, Topographia Hibernica, distinctio 2, c. 41, 5: 126. [back to text]

71. Marco Polo, Milione: Versione toscana del Trecento, Valeria Bertolucci Pizzorusso, ed. (Milan, 1994), cc. 176 and 189, pp. 276–78 and 294. And see the discussion in Campbell, Witness and the Other World, 92–112.

72. The classic study is Rudolf Wittkower, “Marvels of the East: A Study in the History of Monsters,” Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 5 (1942): 159–97; see also Richard Bernheimer, Wild Men in the Middle Ages: A Study in Art, Sentiment and Demonology (Cambridge, Mass., 1952); Lecouteux, Les monstres; Kappler, Monstres; and Katharine Park and Lorraine Daston, “Unnatural Conceptions: The Study of Monsters in Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-Century France and England,” Past and Present 92 (1981): 20–54. On the relative appeal of various travelers’ accounts, see Campbell, Witness and the Other World; and Greenblatt, Marvelous Possessions.

73. Walter of Châtillon, The Alexandreis, R. Telfryn Pritchard, trans. (Toronto, 1986), bk. 8, ll. 374–90, pp. 190–91.

74. Peter the Venerable, De miraculis libri duo, Denise Bouthillier, ed., Corpus christianorum: continuatio mediaevalis, 73 (Turnhout, 1988), bk. 2, c. 25, pp. 142–46; for the first account, see bk. 1, c. 23, pp. 68–72. See also D. Bouthillier and J.-P. Torrell, “‘Miraculum’: Une catégorie fondamentale chez Pierre le Vénérable,” Revue thomiste: Revue doctrinale de théologie et de philosophie 80 (1980): 357–86. On Roger Bacon, see above n. 35; on Caesarius, n. 43.

75. Map, De nugis, pt. 2, c. 4, pp. 66‑67. And compare the passage cited at n. 50 above.

76. A Book of Showings to the Anchoress Julian of Norwich, Edmund Colledge and James Walsh, eds., 2 vols. (Toronto, 1978), Long Text, cc. 49–52, pp. 505–53, esp. 546–47 (“we haue in vs a mervelous medelur both of wele and of woo”) and 548.

77. William, Historia rerum Anglicarum, bk. 1, c. 28, pp. 84–87.

78. Isidore, Etimologías, bk. 11, c. 3, nos. 1–4, 2: 46: “Nam portenta dicta perhibent a portendendo ... Monstra vero a monitu dicta”; see also Oresme, De causis, c. 3, p. 260 n. 118.

79. To say this is not to argue that there was no conquest, appropriation, and exploitation in the Middle Ages, nor is it to forget that the “perspectivalism” of medieval travelers owes much to their limited ability to do anything other than gaze in wonder.

80. I have done a quick search through a large number of representations of key moments in Christian iconography that might be candidates for “wonder”: the Annunciation to Mary, Christ’s Transfiguration, the Last Supper, Christ’s Resurrection, the “Noli me tangere,” the appearance to Thomas the Doubter, Christ’s Ascension, Pentecost, the miracles of Christ and the saints, and Old Testament events such as the sacrifice of Isaac and the Burning Bush. Although some scholars have asserted that one can see a universal wonder‑reaction in paintings such as Leonardo’s Last Supper, the matter is exceedingly complicated, not only because a number of different gestures in art seem clearly to express roughly the same reaction to unusual events but also because the same unusual event seems to garner a wide range of different emotional responses according to the time and circumstance of depiction—from humble acceptance (even resignation) to terror (or even rage). It thus seems to me that the close parallels between sixteenth and seventeenth-century painting and Le Brun’s drawings of the emotions are more likely to reflect artists learning from psychological and anatomical theory than artists reproducing unmediated biological responses. In other words, the art does not suggest physiological reductionism—as Darwin and his latter-day followers such as John Onians have argued—but rather cultural and extremely complex construction of emotional response. Merely to consult the array of depictions of the Annunciation, Transfiguration, and Ascension in a standard reference work such as Gertrud Schiller, Ikonographie der chfistlichen Kunst, 5 vols. (Gütersloh, 1966–80), shows what a wide range of hand gestures accompanies response to the unexpected—a response that is clearly not always what we would think of as “wonder.” it is also, however, significant that when the response does seem to be what we would think of as wonder, there is often some hand gesture (though not always the same one).

81. Gerald of Wales and Vincent of Beauvais accepted the story that barnacle geese were born from trees in Ireland, although Albert the Great rejected it, saying that barnacle birds had been observed having sexual intercourse and laying eggs like other birds; see Lynn Thorndike, A History of Magic and Experimental Science, 8 vols. (New York, 1923–58), 2: 464–65. The travelers’ accounts of Sir John Mandeville and Friar Odoric of Pordenone used the marvel of the barnacle goose to justify the story of Eastern trees whose fruit contained lambs. See Travels of Sir John Mandeville, c. 29, p. 174; and Kappler, Monstres, 62.