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date: 02 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Historical understandings of Hildegard (1098–1179) occupy a central position in the recent revival of the Middle Ages. Viewed as a protofeminist and the first documented female composer, Hildegard is often used as a role model in contemporary times. Through an examination of Margarethe von Trotta’s film Vision, this essay uncovers another image of Hildegard, as an enlightened thinker, deeply invested in the acquisition of knowledge, and as a scientific medical practitioner who abhors the idea of the mortification of the flesh. Using iconic sounds and musical references, the sound design for von Trotta’s film strongly supports this image. In acoustic, as well as in visual and narrative terms, the film epitomizes the contrast between the grotesque and the romantic that is so important to our reception of the Middle Ages.

Keywords: Hildegard von Bingen, nature, enlightenment, grotesque, Margarethe von Trotta, Vision

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