Lady, Hero, Saint: The Digby Play's Mary Magdalene by Joanne FindonLady, Hero, Saint: The Digby Play's Mary Magdalene by Joanne Findon

Lady, Hero, Saint: The Digby Play's Mary Magdalene

byJoanne Findon

Hardcover | March 1, 2011

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The late medieval Digby Mary Magdalene play is dominated by its female protagonist. The playwright seems deliberately to have crafted an especially complex version of the popular saint: a multivalent female figure who both challenges boundaries and presents an exemplar of active, virtuous womanhood. This study begins by examining the play's use of imagery common in lyric poetry. Phrases from Latin scripture, liturgy and hymns accentuate the depiction of a protagonist who represents a meshing of genres, conventions, languages and modes of signification. The play is also a fusion of romantic and spiritual adventure which deploys two major romance 'memes,' creating a figure who redefines the romance heroine as both Lady and Hero. In echoing the fabliaux and other comic intertexts, the play straddles generic boundaries to explore contemporary social issues. Finally, the play's use of space and stagecraft highlights Mary's ability to defy conventional gender boundaries. Since the Digby playwright demonstrates a broad knowledge of secular literature, this study situates his Mary Magdalene within the landscape of literary intertexts and contemporary concerns that might have shaped his thinking. It examines the ways in which the audience might have responded to a liminal figure who, marked by ambivalence and paradox, occupies the space between earth and heaven, ordinary time and eternity, sensuality and sanctity.
Joanne Findon received her doctorate from the Centre for Medieval Studies at the University of Toronto, where her dissertation focussed on women in medieval Irish literature. Her book A Woman's Words: Emer and Female Speech in the Ulster Cycle was published in 1997. While she continues to publish new work on female characters in some o...
Title:Lady, Hero, Saint: The Digby Play's Mary MagdaleneFormat:HardcoverDimensions:240 pages, 9.3 × 6.33 × 0.75 inPublished:March 1, 2011Publisher:Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies, DepartmeLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0888441738

ISBN - 13:9780888441737

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Editorial Reviews

The Digby Mary Magdalene has hitherto been studied primarily as it relates to East Anglian devotional culture. Joanne Findon deepens and broadens our understanding of the play by exploring its use of the 'secular' genres of romance, fabliau, and love lyric to develop its characters and themes. She further shows how it subverts generic conventions and how that subversion is echoed in its unconventional use of space. Findon thus illuminates both the play's ideology and its literary strategies while clarifying its place in literary history. Lady, Hero, Saint is a splendid contribution to the revisionary scholarship that is transforming our understanding of fifteenth-century English literature. - Karen Winstead, Ohio State University