Collectors of medieval religious drama manuscripts routinely bequeathed their names to the play texts they preserved; the titles of the Towneley cycle, the Digby plays, and the Macro plays attest to the importance of prominent bookish intermediaries in saving medieval drama from annihilation by reformers’ zeal and from neglect and time. These same collectors also inscribed new cultural histories on these manuscripts, which could make them material sites for articulating ideological investment, could even charge them with the numinous power of sacred relic connecting present to past. This essay focuses on the afterlife of the East Anglian N-Town plays, exploring the ways that the Cotton Vespasian D.8 manuscript continued to be “performed” (in an extended sense of that word) in ideologies of recusancy and antiquarian possession in the life of its little-known early modern collector, Robert Hegge.
Research Article|September 01 2014
Gail McMurray Gibson; Manuscript as Sacred Object: Robert Hegge’s N-Town Plays. Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 1 September 2014; 44 (3): 503–529. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10829636-2791512
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