Theater of the Word

  • Selfhood in the English Morality Play

  • by Julie Paulson

  • 240 pages, 6.00 x 9.00

  • Paperback | 9780268104627 | April 2019

  • Hardcover | 9780268104610 | April 2019

  • eBook (EPUB) | 9780268104641 | April 2019

  • eBook (Web PDF) | 9780268104634 | April 2019

  • ReFormations: Medieval and Early Modern


In Theater of the Word: Selfhood in the English Morality Play, Julie Paulson sheds new light on medieval constructions of the self as they emerge from within a deeply sacramental culture. The book examines the medieval morality play, a genre that explicitly addresses the question of what it means to be human and takes up the ritual traditions of confession and penance, long associated with medieval interiority, as its primary subjects.

The morality play is allegorical drama, a “theater of the word," that follows a penitential progression in which an everyman figure falls into sin and is eventually redeemed through penitential ritual. Written during an era of reform when the ritual life of the medieval Church was under scrutiny, the morality plays as a whole insist upon a self that is first and foremost performed—constructed, articulated, and known through ritual and other communal performances that were interwoven into the fabric of medieval life.

This fascinating look at the genre of the morality play will be of keen interest to scholars of medieval drama and to those interested in late medieval culture, sacramentalism, penance and confession, the history of the self, and theater and performance.