TitleThe Borders of Blasphemy
Date/TimeTuesday 5 July 2022: 14.15-15.45
OrganiserIMC Programming Committee
Moderator/ChairKaren Casebier, Department of Modern & Classical Languages & Literatures, University of Tennessee, Chattanooga
Paper 718-a 'Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?': The Disposal of Ecclesiastical Corpses in the Old French Fabliaux
(Language: English)
Sebastian Dows-Miller, Faculty of Medieval & Modern Languages, University of Oxford
Index Terms: Language and Literature - French or Occitan; Manuscripts and Palaeography; Religious Life
Paper 718-b Edible Saints, Borderline Blasphemy?: Sacred and Comical in Sermons Joyeux
(Language: English)
Daria Akhapkina, Centre for the Study of the Renaissance, University of Warwick
Index Terms: Hagiography; Language and Literature - French or Occitan; Performance Arts - Drama; Sermons and Preaching
Paper 718-c Dangerous Doubt: Contextualising Mary's Lament in the Towneley Crucifixion
(Language: English)
Celia Florence Farrow, Department of English, McGill University, Québec
Index Terms: Language and Literature - Middle English; Lay Piety; Theology
AbstractPaper -a:
Among the Old French fabliaux six texts feature the body of a recently deceased priest within a macabre game of 'pass-the-parcel'. In this paper, I ask why priests were chosen as the corpse in question. Existing scholarship has suggested that there are vestiary, social, and spiritual features of the priesthood that allow the tales' events to unfold. Complementing these interpretations, I propose further reasons why priestly corpses may have been chosen: that the presence of a priestly corpse facilitates links with Hell, and that the privilegia canonis and fori provide motivation for characters' actions while generating satirical criticism.

Paper -b:
Dating back to the early 15th century, the French genre of sermons joyeux comprises comedic texts parodying real Christian homilies by the means of borrowing their formal side and quoting Biblical passages, but describing the lives of non-existent mock saints. The paper will focus on the lives of so-called 'edible saints' - St Herring, St Ham and Sausage, and St Onion in order to answer several questions. The first and the main one concerns the borderline relations these parodic texts establish between the comic and sacred: how was such a visible and bold subversion received by the faithful, or by the clergy themselves? What goals did these authors set themselves, what audience did they have in mind, if any, and how did this affect the media and devices they used to create their texts? How and why did these genres, made possible during the Middle Ages, disappear or change over the following centuries?

Paper -c:
In the Towneley Crucifixion play, the Virgin closes her lament at the cross by calling Gabriel's promises at the Annunciation false. Her doubt borders on blasphemy. There is no analog for her unbelief in the crucifixion plays of the other major pageant 'cycles', and what little scholarly commentary it receives suggests no source in medieval planctus Mariae lyrics. This paper argues that the Lamentacioun of oure lady, a 14th-century prose narrative, was a model for the Towneley playwright(s), who reworked a similar moment in the earlier text to create a strange and troubling image of the Mary of affective devotion.