Doubting Mary: Early English Drama from N-Town to Shakespeare

Solberg, Emma, English - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Parker, John, English, University of Virginia
Holsinger, Bruce, English, University of Virginia
Fowler, Elizabeth, English, University of Virginia
McGrady, Deborah, University of Virginia

“Doubting Mary: Early English Drama from N-Town to Shakespeare” challenges received interpretations of trials of the Virgin Mary in medieval drama. I argue that Marian pageants, rather than staging triumphs of faith, perpetuate a tense dialectic between faith and doubt. Trespassing across the periodization border, I contend that English Renaissance tragedy owes its much-lauded skepticism not only to Classical but also vernacular medieval theatrical traditions. This inheritance of doubt challenges received dichotomies that divide medieval from Renaissance and skepticism from belief. The first several chapters discuss the Virgin’s ritual function in the N-Town manuscript; a final chapter tracks adaptations of Marian theatrical conventions through the Reformation, culminating with Shakespeare’s Joan of Arc.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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