Show Less
Restricted access

Dreams, Visions, and the Rhetoric of Authority


John Bickley

In Dreams, Visions, and the Rhetoric of Authority, John Bickley explores the ways dreams and visions in literature function as authorizing devices, both affirming and complicating a text’s authority. After providing a framework for categorizing the diverse genres and modes of dream and vision texts, Bickley demonstrates how the theme of authority and strategies for textual self-authorization play out in four highly influential works: the Book of Daniel, Macrobius’s Commentary on the Dream of Scipio, Julian of Norwich’s Revelations of Love, and Chaucer’s Hous of Fame.

Show Summary Details
Restricted access

Chapter 2: Authorizing Strategies in the Dreams and Visions of Daniel


| 17 →

· 2 ·



The Book of Daniel establishes several ways in which dreams and visions can be used to powerful effect in the battle for cultural legitimation, employing diverse authorizing strategies, many of which serve as models for subsequent dream and vision texts. Daniel further solidifies and popularizes two literary forms: the dream sequence and the apocalypse. The text is an important study to the broader understanding of the issue of authority in dream and vision literature as Daniel eventually serves as a textual paradigm in how to wield the two forms in a socio-politically powerful manner.

I will begin with a brief overview of the cultural relevance of Daniel, followed by a historical contextualization of the book and an overview of the competing literary modes at work. This foundation laid, I will then perform a close reading of the text, focusing on the key authorizing strategies Daniel employs in the socio-political struggles of its day, including: the power of pseudonymity; the demonstration of Daniel’s elite credentials; the delegitimization of his social/religious rivals; the establishment of appropriate dream and vision recipients, interpreters, and content; the pious authority of humility; the exaltation of the written word; the effective use of “apocalyptic ← 17 | 18 → symbolism,”1 balanced by concrete historical reference; and the dreamer’s self-authorizing response.

The Cultural Authority of the Book of Daniel

Of all the canonical works...

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.

Do you have any questions? Contact us.

Or login to access all content.