Article Title

Devotional Iconography in the N-Town Marian Plays


In lieu of an abstract, the first paragraph of the essay follows:

The Middle English N-Town cycle evinces an extraordinary consciousness of the motifs and interpretations that characterized late medieval devotion to the Virgin. Of the four Middle English Corpus Christi plays, only the N-Town cycle includes a group of plays, extending from The Conception of Mary to The Trial of Joseph and Mary, specifically concerned with the life of the Virgin before the birth of Christ.1 The scope of Marian attention in the cycle also embraces plays such as the Nativity and The Adoration of the Magi, and the N-Town manuscript shares a Death and Assumption play only with the York cycle. Many scholars have noted the unique Marian preoccupation of the cycle,2 but the iconographic and devotional richness of this group of plays remains largely unexamined. The cycle's manifest awareness of Marian concerns thus invites an exploration of the relationship of devotional iconography to dramatic im~ port. This study explores the N-Town Marian plays as a form of devotional art. It proposes ways in which stage iconography could have embodied the spiritual concerns of the dramatic audience.

Comparative Drama is carried by JSTOR and Project MUSE.