TitleIncarnation theology and its others
NameKeil, Aphrodite M. (author), Scanlon, Larry (chair), Chism, Christine (internal member), Klein, Stacy (internal member), Crane, Susan (outside member), Rutgers University, Graduate School - New Brunswick,
English literature--Middle English, 1100-1500--History and criticism,
Incarnation in literature,
Religion and literature--History--To 1500
DescriptionThis dissertation examines the complex interrelations between incarnation theology and notions of the female body across a representative group of later Middle English literary texts. These texts include two dream visions, one Chaucer’s House of Fame, the product of a London author associated with the royal court, the other, the more provincial Pearl; and two dramas, the Marian pageants of the N-Town cycle play, and the Croxton Play of the Sacrament. A number of feminist scholars, including Caroline Bynum and Barbara Newman, have argued that the category of the feminine was crucial to late medieval conceptions of Christ, that the late medieval Christ was often represented as an androgynous or feminized figure, and that such representations created opportunities for particular women to imitate Christ by means of, rather than despite, their female bodies. My dissertation takes this work as its starting point, but my work differs from it by framing the problem as one of poetic representation. The dispersive representational strategies of the drama on the one hand and the intensely visual elaborations of the dream poems on the other consistently complicate any straightforward theological doctrine. This dissertation argues that even when Christ’s body is feminized in these texts, that feminization is usually complicated by other elements of the representation, so that no simple affirmation of female bodies or female authority takes place. Also, Christ’s fleshliness and Mary’s body are not always presented as meek, nurturant and protective; in my chapter on the Play of the Sacrament I argue that these sacred bodies depart from traditional iconography and behave in aggressive and indecorous ways.
In this study, I have drawn upon recent scholarly analyses of the late medieval incarnational aesthetic, anthropological theories of ritual and performance, feminist theories of gender and embodiment, and studies of medieval literary genres, particularly of the dream vision and the Old French fabliau.
NoteIncludes bibliographical references (p. 176-184)
Noteby Aphrodite M. Keil
CollectionGraduate School - New Brunswick Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Organization NameRutgers, The State University of New Jersey
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work