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Corpus Christi Plays at York: A Context for Religious Drama
  • Clifford Davidson, Western Michigan University
For roughly two centuries, the streets of the city of York were home to the annual performance of a cycle of mystery plays held in conjunction with the festival of Corpus Christi. Remarkable as the resilience of such an event is, no scholar has yet to survey fully the plays' urban setting, especially with a view to understanding how and why they might have continued to appeal to citizens and spectators. One theory has been that the City of York made the guilds perform the plays. Yet, as Davidson argues, this is not a satisfactory solution, despite the admittedly coercive role of officialdom in the plays' organisation and presentation. With the city subject to plague, epidemic, conflict, and economic depression, there had to be enthusiasm for the plays by the individual guilds or the plays would not have survived. Davidson's study examines the role of visuality and piety in late medieval religious practices, the visual and aural ambience of the pageant route, and the motive of charity in presenting them--as well as the related procession--for Corpus Christi. A final chapter, written in collaboration with Sheila White, provides a fitting conclusion for the book by taking up the question of why and how bullying would have resonated with York citizens and onlookers. Includes reprinted chapters “York Guilds and the Corpus Christi Plays” and “The York Plays and Visual Piety.”
  • York plays,
  • English drama,
  • Bible plays
Publication Date
AMS Press
Publisher Statement
From Amazon
Citation Information
Clifford Davidson. Corpus Christi Plays at York: A Context for Religious Drama. New York(2013)
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