Susannah Crowder
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Performance and the parish
Space, memory, and material devotion
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Individual women employed performance in parish settings as well; in Metz, such practices permitted female performers to ‘write’ fresh meanings upon the histories of existing bodies, objects, and spaces. Catherine Gronnaix made sizable foundations at her parish church of St-Martin and at a nearby Celestine monastery; together, these formed an integrated programme of liturgy that represented Catherine in the context of personal, family, and public memory. The resulting performances mapped social and spatial geographies onto the buildings and streets of Metz in ways that connected the various family identities that Catherine could claim. Confraternal devotion and material culture also played equally vibrant roles in the parish performances of women, however. Catherine participated in two religious associations at St-Martin and founded masses to be celebrated in their chapels. This chapter brings together these collective practices with the surviving late medieval elements of the church: sculpture, murals, and windows. Building on recent work that positions devotional images as active objects within performance, it traces the impact of female ‘matter’ and personal practice upon a shared sphere. At St-Martin, bodily performance situated women within privileged places and integrated them into a larger environment of memory, while distinguishing individuals through social and devotional hierarchies.

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Performing women

Gender, self, and representation in late medieval Metz


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