Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Mind the gap : time, gender and conflict in the late medieval Mystery Plays
Author: Black, Daisy Emma
ISNI:       0000 0004 5355 7590
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2014
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Access from Institution:
This thesis explores the relationship between time, gender and moments of conflict in the Mystery Plays. Examining a range of encounters between male and female characters in the plays, I propose that characters’ differing and subjective experiences of time are often at the heart of their conflict. Time, moreover, provides a new methodology with which to understand the ways in which both gender and narrative operate within the plays. In doing so, I chart a number of conflicts staged between characters in plays concerned with biblical narratives which signify transition or rupture: the Incarnation; the Flood; and the slaughter of the Bethlehem Innocents. Engaging with established critical approaches towards medieval models of supersession and typology, as well as recent works in the field of Jewish Studies concerning the medieval Christian preoccupation with what it asserted was a superseded, yet nevertheless ‘present’ Jewish past, I interrogate the ways in which such models are subverted when placed into dialogue with characters whose world-view supports alternative readings of time. First, I provide a reading of Joseph’s age and error in the N-Town Joseph’s Doubt as a meeting of ‘Old’ and ‘New’ theologies. I argue that Joseph’s journey from disbelief in Mary’s virgin pregnancy to eventual acceptance performs as a primarily linear conversion narrative, whilst also proposing that, as a medieval performance of a New Testament time, the N-Town Marian plays’ engagements with multiple levels of time work to complicate models of temporal, supersessionary linearity. I then examine Noah and his wife in the Chester and York Flood plays as participating in very different understandings of time from each other. While Noah adheres to a supersessionary understanding of the Flood which demands a full erasure of the past in order to begin the world anew, his Wife engages with temporal models that promote collapse between medieval and Old Testament times and command the explosive ability to performatively recall the past into the present. Finally, I engage with Serres’ model of topological time in examining the highly complex, multi-linked times operating in the Towneley play Herod the Great. Here, I examine how the play amplifies the ways in which its biblical sources work to bring together events from the Old and New Testaments in processes of prophecy and validation, whilst also asking whether characters such as Herod and the mothers defending their children from him may be said to command agency over their time. In bringing together theories of time, gender, antisemitism and periodization, I not only nuance the ways in which moments of conflict between the mystery plays’ male and female biblical characters are analysed, but also highlight the complex ways in which the late medieval producers and audiences of the mystery plays were themselves encouraged to question, experience, read and understand time.
Supervisor: Pearson, Jacqueline; Bernau, Anke Sponsor: Liddon Fund
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Medieval ; Mystery Play ; Time ; Gender ; Conflict ; Antisemitism ; Religion