This book produces an important re-theorisation of the ways gender, time and
Judaism have been considered in late medieval biblical drama. It employs
theories of gender, performance, antisemitism, queer theory and periodisation to
complicate readings of early theatre’s biblical matriarchs and patriarchs. It
argues that the conflicts staged by these plays provide crucial evidence of the
ways late medieval lay producers, performers and audiences were themselves
encouraged to question, experience, manipulate and understand time.
Interrogating medieval models of supersession and typology alongside more
contemporary models of ‘queer’ and topological time, this book charts the
conflicts staged between dramatic personae in plays that represent theological
transitions or ruptures, such as the Incarnation, Flood, Nativity and Bethlehem
slaughter. While these plays reflect a Christian preoccupation with what it
asserted was a ‘superseded’ Jewish past, this book asks how these models are
subverted when placed in dialogue with characters who experience alternative
readings of time.
‘Wrinkled deep in time’: Emily and Arcite
in A Midsummer Night’s Dream
When Theseus is offered the show of a drunken mob of women
tearing the poet Orpheus limb from limb for his nuptial celebrations he dismisses it thus:
That is an old device, and it was played
When I from Thebes came last a conqueror.
(A Midsummer Night’s Dream 5.1.50–1)1
How old and when? Theseus’s allusion to his own backstory presents a temporal puzzle. In Chaucer’s The Knight’s Tale, Theseus
returns in triumph from his conquest of Thebes, after he has
married his Amazonian bride
Queering the Nativity in the Towneley Second Shepherds’ Play
This voice, wanting and unfulfilled in the now as it is conventionally construed, this voice whose desire requires, even demands, another kind of time beyond such linearity, empty and homogenous, is a queer voice. 1
MAK: And ilke yere that commys to man She bryngys furth a lakan, And some yeres two. 2
Carolyn Dinshaw’s ground-breaking work How Soon is Now? provides an insight into how it might feel to be an anachronism in the Middle Ages. Identifying ‘forms of desirous, embodied being that are out of sync with the ordinary linear
Did it start with Bergson,
or before? Space was treated as the dead, the fixed, the
undialectical, the immobile. Time, on the contrary, was
richness, fecundity, life, dialectic.
Michel Foucault 1
The traditional ontology of the
the co-existence of languages, particularly Latin and the
vernaculars, in medieval society; and, above all, in relation to the
widespread cinematic depiction of the Middle Ages as a time of high
mobility and intercultural contact. The present chapter will explore to
what extent medieval film engages with questions of language, and to
what extent these engagements may be distinctive. 2 Three principal
The ‘thingness’ of time in the Old English
riddles of the Exeter Book and Aldhelm’s
What do we make of the transformation of things over time?
Maybe one also ought to ask what things make of us over time: how
are human beings transformed by the things that carry the traces
of our voices and our bodies when we are gone? The Old English
and Anglo-Latin riddling traditions give voice to things, as if they
could answer such a question. Yet, for the most part, criticism
has focused on the rhetorical device of prosopopoeia, whereby the
What happens when Chaucer turns up where we don’t expect him to be? Transporting Chaucer draws on the work of the British sculptor Antony Gormley alongside more traditional literary scholarship to show that Chaucer’s play with textual history and chronological time prefigures how his poetry becomes incorporate with later (and earlier) texts. The shuttling of bodies, names, and sounds in and amongst works that Chaucer did write anticipates Chaucerian presences in later (and earlier) works that he did not. Chaucer’s characters, including ‘himself’ refuse to stay put in one place and time. This book bypasses the chronological borders of literary succession to read The Canterbury Tales and Chaucer’s Dream Vision poetry in present company with Chaucerian ‘apocrypha’, and works by Shakespeare, Davenant and Dryden. Conventional models of source and analogue study are re-energised to reveal unexpected (and sometimes unsettling) literary cohabitations and re-placements. Transporting Chaucer presents innovative readings of relationships between medieval texts and early modern drama, and between literary texts and material culture. Associations between medieval architecture, pilgrim practice, manuscript illustration, and the soundscapes of dramatic performance reposition how we read Chaucer’s oeuvre and what gets made of it. Written for scholars and students (undergraduate and graduate) who work in medieval English literary studies and early modern drama, Transporting Chaucer offers a new approach to how we encounter texts through time.
sources at a time when the historical discourse was evolving, owing
to broader societal cultural shifts.8 Likewise the complex portrayals of
noblewomen and the way that such images present particular views
of noblewomen are set into an appreciation of the broader issues of
authorial bias and political, social and cultural contexts. This analysis
is above all concerned with the difficulty of measuring the power of
noblewomen, given the complexities of the sources.9
Noblewomen appear in twelfth-century texts as both active subjects
and passive objects, in complex ways
. What they have in common is that the women who were married to the earls were of high aristocratic status, Constance of Brittany’s
marriage marking the twelfth-century apogee in the Chester marriage strategy. More interestingly, and reflective of the disparity of age
between men and women at the time of their marriage in the twelfth
century, most of the women who married the earls then managed
to survive their husbands – and it is during these periods of relative
independence that they are most visible.
Matilda, d. of
Stephen of Blois and
Adelaide, d. of
F. Pollock and F. W. Maitland, A History of English Law before the Time of Edward I
(Cambridge, 1985; 2nd edn, 1898, repr. London: Cambridge University Press, 1968);
F. M. Stenton, The First Century of English Feudalism, 1066–1166 (Oxford: Clarendon
Press, 1932; 2nd edn, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1961).
5 Bloch, Etymologies and Genealogies, pp. 13–15.
6 As cited in G. B. Ladner, Images and Ideas in the Middle Ages: Selected Studies in
History and Art (2 vols, Rome: Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura, 1983), 1. 241.
7 Hugonis Abbatis Flaviancensis Chronicon, ed. J