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Title: A cultural history of gesture : England c.1380-1559
Author: Murphy, P. P.
Awarding Body: Queen's University Belfast
Current Institution: Queen's University Belfast
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis evaluates the cultural work of gestures in the religious life of late medieval England. It exposes a void in current scholarship to suggest that gestural performances lie at the centre of contemporary modes of learning, highlighting how embodied engagements with faith allow for a new analysis of the nature of late medieval religious practices and teaching. The study establishes a sustainable grammar of religious gestures in late medieval England, tracing sources of encouragement for embodied performance before examining how established corporeal regimes could be distorted and re-appropriated. The thesis begins with an introduction to the engagements with gestural politics that have emerged in medieval textual studies in recen t years to suggest that gestural studies may be a tangible, flowering field. I turn to the liturgy as the starting point for my own examination of the gestural culture of late medieval Christianity, exploring verbal and bodily engagement by preachers and congregants with generalised notions of gestural behaviour, while highlighting distortions of practice in relation to the liturgical year. The thesis then examines how the gestures of the Church are used and misused in contemporaly religious drama, noting the distinct mannerisms that are associated with particular saints and biblical figures, while outlining the gestural transgressions that occur, especially with relation to diabolic characters. The next section focuses on the relationship between gestures and the imagination in Nicholas Love's Mirror of the Blessed Life of Jesus Christ and Margery Kempe's Book to highlight the individualistic possibilities of gestural performance in the fifteenth century. The final chapter examines the theological rebuke to this gestural culture, specifically in the crafting of the Book of Common Prayer, highlighting how reformers in the sixteenth century dealt with the corporeal engagement with God which had flourished previously, with specific relation to visual and material culture.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available