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This collection of essays offers new perspectives that foster our understanding of the crucial role the Bible played in medieval culture as well as in the wake of the Reformation across Europe. The thirteen essays open up new horizons for the study of biblical drama by putting special emphasis on periodisation, the intersections of biblical narrative and performance, and the strategies employed by playwrights to rework and adapt the biblical source material. Special emphasis is placed on multitemporality, transnationality, and the modalities of performance and form in relation to the uses of the Bible in medieval and early modern drama. The three aspects are intertwined: particular modalities of performance evolve, adapt and are re-created as they intersect with different historical times and circumstances. These intersections pertain to aspects such as dramatic traditions, confessional and religious rites, dogmas and debates, conceptualisations of performance and form, and audience response – whenever the Bible is evoked for performative purposes. The collection thus stresses the co-presence of biblical and contemporary concerns in the periods under discussion, conceiving of biblical drama as a central participant in the dynamic struggle to both interpret and translate the Bible.

Donne’s Holy Sonnet ‘Oh my black Soule’
Angelika Zirker

meaning and structure will be analysed in more detail and brought into closer connection with the ‘dramatic’ qualities of this Holy Sonnet. The communicative situation which resembles a soliloquy contributes to the dramatic quality of the poem and lends it coherence. The various topics raised in the sonnet – approaching death, colours, sin, grace, the allusion to medieval drama, the form of the soliloquy – thus turn out to belong together: they are

in William Shakespeare and John Donne
Neil Cornwell

the proto-novels of the late classical period and the inventive and fantastical compositions of Rabelais, on which Bakhtin went on to expatiate in the later Rabelais and His World (Bakhtin, 1968), came the presentations of medieval drama, in both their serious and their more subverted forms. The dramatised allegory of morality plays seemingly arose in England, probably from about the end of the fourteenth century, and developed in France and elsewhere. Mystery and miracle plays began Antecedents to the absurd 37 to appear as early as the ninth century and

in The absurd in literature
Temporal origami in the Towneley Herod the Great
Daisy Black

-looking or valuable chiefly through processes of typological reading, the structures of ‘prophecy’ and ‘fulfilment’ established in Matthew 2 suggest that the gospel is not overwriting the Hebrew past but deferring to its authority. This process is emphasised in the two incidents of Herod’s recourse to his ‘bookys’ in the Towneley Magi and Herod the Great pageants, which show how Herod’s reading of Hebrew texts as ‘prophecy’ directs his response to the rumours of a new king. Herod: a true King of the ‘Jews’? The Herod of English medieval drama has arguably attracted

in Play time
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What God was doing before he created the world
Daisy Black

, so female experiences of time in medieval drama often differ from male experiences. 32 While time is not consistently ‘gendered’ in the plays, this book finds that several of the male characters it encounters – Joseph, Herod, Mak and Noah – tend to desire and expect time to be structured, whether this involves the passive assumption of a linear continuation of a certain state of time, the anticipation of the beginning of a new era, an attempt to conform to a linear family timeline based on reproduction, or an active attempt to direct the course of time. Where

in Play time
Author: Laura Varnam

The church as sacred space places the reader at the heart of medieval religious life, standing inside the church with the medieval laity in order to ask what the church meant to them and why. It examines the church as a building, idea, and community, and explores the ways in which the sanctity of the church was crucial to its place at the centre of lay devotion and parish life. At a time when the parish church was facing competition for lay attention, and dissenting movements such as Lollardy were challenging the relevance of the material church, the book examines what was at stake in discussions of sanctity and its manifestations. Exploring a range of Middle English literature alongside liturgy, architecture, and material culture, the book explores the ways in which the sanctity of the church was constructed and maintained for the edification of the laity. Drawing on a wide range of contemporary theoretical approaches, the book offers a reading of the church as continually produced and negotiated by the rituals, performances, and practices of its lay communities, who were constantly being asked to attend to its material form, visual decorations, and significance. The meaning of the church was a dominant question in late-medieval religious culture and this book provides an invaluable context for students and academics working on lay religious experience and canonical Middle English texts.

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Fantasies of supersession and explosive questions in the York and Chester Flood plays
Daisy Black

relationship between speech act and intent changes again, as the aim of medieval performance was not, as in later, post-Stanislavski eras, to embody the past, but to re-present it. 105 Evidence from tracts such as the ‘Tretise of Miraclis Pleyinge’ does raise broader anxieties concerning the relationship between Crucifixion-time and medieval time through the ‘playing out’ of Christ’s tortures. 106 However, the frequency with which swearing appears across all forms of late medieval drama indicates that it is probable that belief in the performative violence of swearing did

in Play time
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Susannah Crowder

moneylenders. Introduction 3 Claude even claimed aristocratic status, through her marriage to a local noble. All of these women play a part in my story, with their intertwined histories standing in for the performing women of Metz as a whole. Of these four figures, the actor and patron are most familiar to scholars of medieval drama, having inspired many questions and few answers. Awareness of the Catherine actor and Catherine Baudoche is common, yet the relevance of each and their Saint Catherine jeu to broader histories of performance remains obscure. Very little is

in Performing women
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Chanita Goodblatt and Eva von Contzen

. In the first part, titled ‘Medieval drama’, the focus is on English mystery plays preserved in the Towneley, Chester, York, and N-Town Cycles. Lawrence Besserman discusses the role of Noah's wife – a voiceless cipher in the biblical account – as a radical, impious questioning of both patriarchal and divine authority. He argues that in the performative foregrounding of this character, her refusal to board the Ark can be seen as coinciding with the emergence of outspoken female critics (e.g. Margery Kempe, Joan White, anonymous female Lollard ‘preachers’) of a male

in Enacting the Bible in medieval and early modern drama
An enactive reading of the Middle English cycle plays
Eva von Contzen

reconstructed, imagined) performance. 16 For medieval drama, Jill Stevenson has demonstrated the merits of cognitive approaches, which can also fruitfully complement traditional literary theory. She uses conceptual blending and mirror neuron responses as two promising areas of cognitive research for medieval theatre scholarship. 17 Both these theories can enhance our insight into audience engagement and the multi-layered aspects of the

in Enacting the Bible in medieval and early modern drama