The Wakefield Master's Dramatic Art: A Drama of Spiritual Understanding

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"Liam Purdon uses philosophical, historical, and poetical sources brilliantly to place the Wakefield Master in the right literary pantheon--the ranks of English dramatical geniuses leading up to Marlowe and Shakespeare."--James J. Paxson, University of Florida

"Liam Purdon's exploration of the relationship between the natural, the practical, the technical, and the spiritual aspects of medieval life, as it was lived and celebrated in the Towneley plays, yields rich insights pertinent to scholars of the Middle Ages."--Laura F. Hodges, author of

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Overview

"Liam Purdon uses philosophical, historical, and poetical sources brilliantly to place the Wakefield Master in the right literary pantheon--the ranks of English dramatical geniuses leading up to Marlowe and Shakespeare."--James J. Paxson, University of Florida

"Liam Purdon's exploration of the relationship between the natural, the practical, the technical, and the spiritual aspects of medieval life, as it was lived and celebrated in the Towneley plays, yields rich insights pertinent to scholars of the Middle Ages."--Laura F. Hodges, author of Chaucer and the Costume: The Secular Pilgrims in the General Prologue

The Wakefield Master's Dramatic Art examines a single unknown playwright's distinct contribution to the Towneley collection of plays by providing new interpretations of the six plays and two play revisions attributed to this remarkable late-15th-century artist.

Liam Purdon demonstrates how the Master imaginatively treats the axiomatic medieval understanding of the relationship between the cooperative serving of God and serving of self through the technological mastery and practical use of nature. He shows how individual plays offer the audience a way of comprehending cooperation in terms of either abuse or proper use of nature, in terms of the kind of mind that is ready to engage in or reject cooperation, and in terms of the blatant abuse of technological mastery of the legal and political arts.

The distinctive feature of this approach to the Master's work is that it turns attention from the materiality of performance to the figural dimension of the drama itself. Such resituating of the drama as object of critical scrutiny provides an opportunity to reexamine how the medieval mind understood the ethical dimension of aesthetic expression and used that expression to effect individual as well as civic reform.

Liam O. Purdon is professor of English at Doane College.

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Editorial Reviews

Laura F. Hodges
Liam Purdon's exploration of the relationship between the natural, the practical, the technical, and the spiritual aspects of medieval life, as it was lived and celebrated in the Towneley plays, yields rich insights pertinent to scholars of the Middle Ages.

author of Chaucer and the Costume: The Secular Pilgrims in the General Prologue
James J. Paxson
Liam Purdon uses philosophical, historical, and poetical sources brilliantly to place the Wakefield Master in the right literary pantheon-the ranks of English dramatical geniuses leading up to Marlowe and Shakespeare.
University of Florida
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813026039
  • Publisher: University Press of Florida
  • Publication date: 5/28/2003
  • Edition description: First
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface
Introduction 1
1 The Abuse of Time and Space in the Mactatio Abel 21
2 The Abuse and Use of Time and Space in the Processus Noe cum filiis 46
3 [Prima] Pagina Pastorum and the "Inventive" Speculative Creaturely Triune Mind 67
4 [Secunda] Pagina Pastorum and the "Inventive" Empirical Creaturely Triune Mind 103
5 Magnus Herodes and the Degradation of the Rational Soul 152
6 The Repudiation of the Eschatology of Labor in Two "Passion Group" Revisions and the Coliphizacio 191
Conclusion 224
Notes 227
Bibliography 281
Index 300
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