Domesticating the Virgin: vernacular depictions of Mary and their reception in late medieval society

Scammell, Jennifer F. (2010) Domesticating the Virgin: vernacular depictions of Mary and their reception in late medieval society. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This thesis is concerned with the didactic function of fourteenth- and fifteenth-century vernacular religious literature and art in contemporary medieval English society, and particularly the ways in which texts and images participate in emergent lay religious culture and inform social practices of the time. The focus is on apocryphal and legendary depictions of episodes in the Life of the Virgin Mary in vernacular works of the later Middle Ages and special consideration is given to the ways in which certain female audiences in England may have received and responded to Mary narratives. An introductory chapter outlines the process and means by which biblical and extra-biblical knowledge was disseminated to the late medieval laity via the range of literary and pictorial material brought into comparison in this thesis. Additionally, the introductory chapter surveys existing research on the socio-economic and spiritual circumstances that made accounts of Mary’s life particularly useful to ‘merchant-class’ wives whose way of life, it is argued, is emblematic of change in the period. Five central chapters each provide interpretations of common motifs in a key event in Christian history involving Mary and assess their engagement with the experiences and aspirations of lay unlearned audiences, primarily (though not exclusively) domesticated bourgeois women. The events referred to and discussed in chronological order in this thesis are the Annunciation, Nativity, Passion of Christ, and the Death, Assumption and Coronation of Mary. The material analysed comprises biblical drama, sermons, poetry, lyrics, wall-paintings, manuscript illustrations, and tapestries. A number of core works are referred to throughout and, as detailed in the introduction, include texts such as the four extant mystery cycle plays, Nicholas Love’s Mirror, John Mirk’s Festial, the Cursor Mundi, and art works such as contained in the Biblia Pauperum, and books of hours.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Due to copyright restrictions the full text of this thesis cannot be made available online. Access to the printed version is available
Keywords: Virgin Mary, late medieval vernacular culture, merchant class women
Subjects: N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Critical Studies
Supervisor's Name: Caie, Prof. Graham D. and Strickland, Dr. Debra H.
Date of Award: 2010
Depositing User: Ms Jennifer Scammell
Unique ID: glathesis:2010-1894
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 09 Jul 2010
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2012 13:48

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