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Performing saints' lives: Medieval miracle plays and popular culture

Diana Lucy Murphy, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This dissertation examines vernacular saint plays in French, Italian, and English from the thirteenth through sixteenth centuries. It focuses on the genre of hagiographic drama as an expression of popular religion and popular culture in the Middle Ages, serving as a test of current theories pertaining to popular culture. Sociohistorical methods are employed throughout the work as a basis for determining the role of religious theater in medieval society. Contextual analyses of theoretical approaches are provided, including New Historicism, the theory of Mikhail Bakhtin, and the work of Victor Turner. The chapters offer information concerning the cultic traditions that gave rise to the saint plays, an examination of social changes related to the performances, aesthetic conventions, and issues of reception. ^

Subject Area

Medieval literature|Romance literature|Religious history|Theater|Medieval history|English literature

Recommended Citation

Murphy, Diana Lucy, "Performing saints' lives: Medieval miracle plays and popular culture" (1998). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9909195.