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Signifying God: Social Relation and Symbolic Act in the York Corpus Christi Plays

 
 
 
 
Signifying God: Social Relation and Symbolic Act in the York Corpus Christi Plays
Author: Sarah Beckwith
ISBN 13: 9780226041339
ISBN 10: 226041336
Edition: 1
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Publication Date: 2003-12-01
Format: Paperback
Pages: 312
List Price: $31.00
 
 

In Signifying God, Sarah Beckwith explores the most lavish, long-lasting, and complex form of collective theatrical enterprise in English history: the York Corpus Christi plays. Staged as early as 1376, the York Corpus Christi plays were performed annually until the late 1500s and involved as much as a tenth of the city in multiple performances at a dozen or more locations.

Introducing a radical new understanding of these plays as "sacramental theater," Beckwith shows how organizing the plays served as a political mechanism for regulating labor, and how the combination of theater and sacrament allows them to carry out important theological work. Beckwith's work engages and reveals intersections within an array of disciplines, including theater history, ritual and performance studies, religious history, theology, and the literary history of both the Middle Ages and the Reformation.