Representations of the Body in Middle English Biblical Drama

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Estella Ciobanu
587 g
216x151x27 mm
The New Middle Ages

Focuses on Middle English biblical drama


1. Introduction: The Demonic/-ised Subaltern's In-sight

1.1 Why Argue about Arguments Anyway?

1.2 What Is Truth? From Truth/Power/Knowledge to the Theatricalisation of Truth

1.3 The Body of Argument, Violence of Representation, and Epistemic Positioning

1.4 Looking with the Devil

1.4.1 The Biblical Satan

1.4.2 Harrowing Only Hell? The Devil of Middle English Theatre

1.5 Chapter Outline



Part I Skeletons in the Closet of Religious Dramas

2. The Slaughter of the Innocent(s): The Meek, the Muted and the Discursive Spear of Power

2.1 The Slaughter of the Innocents: The Gospel Account

2.2 The Middle English Slaughter Drama: Staging the Threat to 'Soveraintye'

2.3 Ordering the Massacre: Terror and Displaced Abjection

2.4 The Massacre of the Innocents: The Discursive Spear of Power and the Body of Argument



3. The Tyrant Is Dead. Long Live the Tyrant!

3.1 Herod the Great's Demise: The Argument from Power

3.2 Herod the Great's Family Resemblances and Illustrious Pedigree

3.2.1 Embodied Performances of Sovereignty: The Tyrant's Self-Aggrandising Speech

3.2.2 The Bodily Inscription of Sovereignty: Lucifer's Blasphemy (?)

3.2.3 Deus: The Egg-or-Hen Riddle of Sovereignty

3.3 Tyrannous Performances of Power from Potestas to Social Minores

3.3.1 The Pleasure of Spectacular Dismemberment

3.3.2 Interchangeable Fate in the Body of Argument: The Executioner's Body in Pieces

3.3.3 Exercises in Kyriarchal Power: God, Abraham and Isaac, and the Dissemination of Dread



4. The Body in Pieces: Judicial Torture and/as Musical Dismemberment in the Passion Plays

4.1 The Body in Pieces in the York Passion: Christ and His Tormentors

4.1.1 Losing One's Tongue

4.1.2 The Victim's Body in Pieces

4.1.3 The Victimiser's Body in Pieces

4.2 Christ's Body and/as the Engine of Torture in the Towneley Passion

4.3 Beating the Truth out of the Other's Body: The Self-Legitimating Spectacle of Power in the N-Town Passion

4.4 Pleasure and the Truth of Body Music in the Chester Passion



5. Commemorations of Christ's Passion Body: Ostentatio Vulnerum , Redemptive Theology and Violence of Representation in the Post-Crucifixion Plays

5.1 Christ's Abject Body in Death in York

5.2 Teaching Piety, Teaching Guilt: The Musical Commemoration of the Abject Passion Body in the Towneley/York Resurrection Plays

5.3 Violence of Representation in the N-Town Resurrection Plays: Passion Body, Guilty Jew and the Ma(r)king of the Truth of Christianitas

5.4 Truth and/of Christ's Lost Body in the Chester Resurrection

5.5 Handle and Believe: The Truths of Christ's Risen Body in the Chester Emmaus and Ascension

5.6 Commemorating the Abject Passion Body: The Chester and York Last Judgement

5.7 The Body (Witness) Which Is Not One: Jesus's Passion Body, Mary's Assumption Body, and Truth Games in the York Assumption of the Virgin



Part II Travestied Social Dramas

6. Noah's Wife in the Flood Plays: The Body of Argument between Argumentum ad Verecundiam , Argumentum ad Hominem and Argumentum ad Baculum

6.1 'Women's Wiles' and the Argumentum ad Baculum in the Towneley Noah and the Ark

6.2 Brave New World: Noah's Irrational Reason and Ventriloquism in the York Flood

6.3 Who Is the Master? The Chester Noah's Flood



7. Stipendia Enim Peccati, Mors

7.1 Drowning Sin, Saving the 'Prowdist of Pryde'?

7.2 Avenging the Sin of Pride: Herod the Great, Mors and the Danse Macabre in the N-Town Slaughter of the Innocents

7.3 Displaced Abjection: The En-gendering of Sin in the Chester Harrowing of Hell

7.4 Damnation 'by the Book' in the Last Judgement Plays: The Making and Unmaking of the Body of Sin



8. Conclusion



Representations of the Body in Middle English Biblical Drama combines epistemological enquiry, gender theory and Foucauldian concepts to investigate the body as a useful site for studying power, knowledge and truth. Intertwining the conceptualizations of violence and the performativity of gender identity and roles, Estella Ciobanu argues that studying violence in drama affords insights into the cultural and social aspects of the later Middle Ages. The text investigates these biblical plays through the perspective of the devil and offers a unique lens that exposes medieval disquiets about Christian teachings and the discourse of power. Through detailed primary source analysis and multidisciplinary scholarship, Ciobanu constructs a text that interrogates the significance of performance far beyond the stage.

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