Stigmatical Drama

Ellen Mackay

in Persecution, Plague, and Fire

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780226500195
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226500218 | DOI:
Stigmatical Drama

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  • Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)


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In comparison with the Roman form that precedes it, Catholic drama accords more pleasingly with an audience's experience. Instead of saddling the spectator with the burden of a guilt that must be displaced and disavowed, religious performance turns the poignancy of what it shows into the promise of salvation. The difficulty, though, is that it can admit no such comparison. Because its impact must always seem to have been holily begotten, not made, a Christian theater cannot aim to improve upon Rome's travesty of justice; according to Hardin Craig's 1955 study of English Religious Drama, it is a form that must be accorded a virgin birth.

Keywords: Catholic drama; religious performance; salvation; Christian theater; virgin birth; Hardin Craig; English Religious Drama

Chapter.  13555 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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