Christianitas as Performance of Personal and Collective Body Borders in Middle English Drama: The Case of the Crucifixion (York) and the Play of Þe Co Cover Image
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Christianitas as Performance of Personal and Collective Body Borders in Middle English Drama: The Case of the Crucifixion (York) and the Play of Þe Co
Christianitas as Performance of Personal and Collective Body Borders in Middle English Drama: The Case of the Crucifixion (York) and the Play of Þe Co

Author(s): Estella Antoaneta Ciobanu
Subject(s): Literary Texts
Published by: Institutul de Cercetări Socio-Umane Gheorghe Şincai al Academiei Române
Keywords: The Crucifixion (York); The Play of þe Conversyon of Ser Jonathas þe Jewe by Myracle of þe Blyssed Sacrament; body borders; body violation; ecumenicity; Christianitas; performance; Judith Butler.

Summary/Abstract: Late medieval Western Christianity, with its Christology focused on the suffering human Christ, encouraged an understanding of the Christian self – or rather embodied subject – at both personal and collective levels, as and through performance (in Butlerian sense) on and of the border of Christianitas. As the world of Christians, their ethos and religious–jurisdictional–territorial bond, or the Christian community, Christian faith and the territory of Christendom, Christianitas was a hegemonic representational model imposed by the Gregorian reformers as much for jurisdictional unity as for epistemological coherence. This collective body’s physical and spiritual liability to attacks from both within and without became apparent at times of socio-political or religious unrest. Accordingly, the borders I am concerned with here may be construed as at once abstract and concrete, macrostructural (social and ethnic) and microstructural (inner/psychic/personal) boundaries, an attempt at definition qua localisation and a performance of epistemological and theological principles. In the Latin West, such border performance was always already done by reference to Corpus Christi (the body of Christ) in spite of its multiple and diachronically shifting references; in other words, the arena of identitary performance(s) was delimited within body borders, whose outline made the very culture in which this (Christic) body concern emerged one of and obsessed with borders. Religious and ethnic borders could codify epistemic, not just faith, borders, and implicitly truth regimes grounded in relations of power/knowledge (in Foucauldian terms). This paper addresses the performance of body borders in its concrete and abstract interplay in two emblematic cases of body violation in Middle English theatre: the York Crucifixion and the East-Anglian Play of þe Conversyon of Ser Jonathas þe Jewe by Myracle of þe Blyssed Sacrament, also known as “The Croxton Play of the Sacrament.” What such performance intimates is the vulnerability of the border (fiction), albeit so as to demonstrate the very necessity of erecting borders in the first place, whether between humans and the deity or between Christianitas and the errant/erring body of infidelitas.

  • Issue Year: 2011
  • Issue No: 14
  • Page Range: 63-90
  • Page Count: 28
  • Language: English