Grave new world
Fantasies of supersession and explosive questions in the York and Chester Flood plays
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This chapter argues that the dramatisation of the Flood in the York and Chester plays complicates questions of supersession and typology further by demonstrating that the conflict between Noah and his wife lies in their opposing conceptions of time. Engaging with medieval theories concerning annihilation and renewal as well as more recent works on temporal collapse and explosiveness, it finds that, while Noah adheres to a supersessionary understanding of the Flood which demands a full erasure of the past in order to begin the world anew, his wife engages with models that command the explosive ability to recall the past into the present. Tracking the history of the rebellious wife figure to its earliest versions in European manuscript illumination as well as in Jewish and Muslim folklore, this chapter argues that, when placed on the medieval pageant, the disobedience legend moves beyond its frequent assignment within the problematic medieval trope of the ‘unruly woman’. Where Noah seeks to re-assert distance between past and present, Noah’s wife and her gossips collapse times into simultaneity.

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Gender, anti-Semitism and temporality in medieval biblical drama

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