The Spectacle of the Body in Late Medieval England (PB) (2020)


Originally published by Lumen Publishing House in 2012, The Spectacle of the Body in Late Medieval England, now thoroughly revised and with an updated bibliography, welcomes medievalists, humanities students and the general public alike to the bygone world which created and performed the Middle English biblical theatre. The body represented on page in such dramas and thence on the stage, like its cognates in various other late medieval practices, is not simply a body publicly visible. Rather, it is identified/-able as a potent signifier - or rather signifying practice - of the extra-ordinary as well as the ordinary; often exposed as fraudulent, it sometimes appears resistant to, even subversive of, the status quo. Issues concerning the body and its spectacular visibility provide, in fact, the very focus for the present study, if not with respect to biblical drama. Whether we speak of what the medieval people saw elevated after the consecration of the Host in the aftermath of the ecumenical Fourth Lateran Council (1215) or how the mystics saw and reported their union with God, whether it is practices of looking at religious images or of watching the religious theatre, we must tread carefully lest we risk unwarranted presentism. Nor should we, however, take the ideology of medieval practices at its own word and turn a blind eye to the entanglements of power, truth and knowledge (in a Foucauldian sense).

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Estella Antoaneta Ciobanu
ISBN 10:
Editura Lumen
Publication Date:
February 14, 2020