A Bird in the Hand: Shifting Politics and Processions in Chester

  • Theodore K. Lerud
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


Having laid out the origins of the drama as image according to the memory theory of Cicero and the Rhetoric ad Herennium—taken in the context of Aquinas’ notion of the importance of images, or phantasmata to cognition—we have now begun to look at the actual phenomenology of performance against this matrix of memory. In the production of the English Corpus Christi plays, the frames of manuscript images—essential to their meaning by all accounts—become the doors, gates, and archways of the late medieval town, played out against a politics of space aptly described by Greimas, Ashley and Sheingorn, and others. As we have seen, much evidence has been adduced demonstrating the importance of playing places at York and Chester, but without adequate theorizing of the implications for dramatic production of the cognitive matrix of memory.


Fourteenth Century English Corpus Town Official Medieval Town Civic Pride 
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  1. 15.
    Collinson postulates three stages to the Reformation, during the first of which Protestantism embraced already existing cultural forms, including the drama. It was during the second phase, dated to 1580, that the Reformers rejected popular forms. See Patrick Collinson, The Birthpangs of Protestant England (London: Macmillan, 1988), p. 98.Google Scholar
  2. 19.
    David Mills, The Chester Mystery Cycle: A New Edition with Modernized Spelling (East Lansing, MI: Colleagues Press, 1992), p. xvi.Google Scholar
  3. 51.
    Christopher Haigh, Reformation and Resistance in Tudor Lancashire (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1975), p. 163.Google Scholar
  4. 54.
    R.C. Richardson, Puritanism in North-West England (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1972), p. 1.Google Scholar

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© Theodore K. Lerud 2008

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  • Theodore K. Lerud

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