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Article Title

The Play of Wisdom and the Abbey of St. Edmund

Abstract

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

English literature has a venerable tradition of poems inspired by piles of old stones. But medieval drama historians too must be moved to curiosity by the ruins and ciphers that remain to hint at the lost coherence of a past we want to know. Indeed, such clues point us at a past we must know, for medieval theater in its time performed functions as immediate and practical-as grounded in human need, festival, and community-as medieval Christendom itself. The registers of dialogue that survive can only become resonant when they are reunited with the spectacle that made them art and with the contractual purpose and context that made them exist at all. The drama historian's search for the coordinates of time and place, for drama historian's search for the coordinates of time and place, for dramatic provenance and motive, is neither empty academic exercise nor gossip but is, I believe, central to the assumption that to know the medieval theater means to know it as fully as we can in its human particularity. This article begins with a play in search of a place, the fifteenth-century morality play called Wisdom - and with a pile of old stones.

Comparative Drama is carried by JSTOR and Project MUSE.

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