Spiritual Hunger and the Search for God in Augustine’s Confessions: A New ‘Sensory’ Approach to the Text-Audience Interaction

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Christina E. Turner


This article investigates the role of sensory metaphors of food and hunger in the communicative project of the Confessions. Under the broad framework of cognitive poetics, which focuses on the interaction between text and audience, I analyse how sensory language contributes to an appeal to the readers’ sensory imaginations and emotions that they might be responsive to the viewpoint put forward by the text. I find that Augustine stimulates and reorientates especially his Manichaean readers’ intuitive but also cultural and familiar conceptions of the sensible world in relation to God, of their religious food and dietary rituals and, by extension, of their experience of God. This, I argue, seems to be a persuasive device to encourage new interpretation of the senses as signs which point towards immaterial reality, and new understanding of man’s relationship to God as utterly transcendent and unchangeable.

Late Antiquity Christianity Manichaeism Augustine of Hippo Cognitive Poetics Metaphor Rhetoric Audience Senses


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Article Details

Author Biography

Christina E. Turner, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven

Graduate in Language and Culture from the University of Stellenbosch (South Africa) and Master in Ancient Languages from the same university. Currently, she is a doctoral student in Religious Studies at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven.