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Staging Contemplation in the Vernacular

Staging Contemplation in the Vernacular

(p.191) Conclusion Staging Contemplation in the Vernacular
Staging Contemplation
Eleanor Johnson
University of Chicago Press

The conclusion reviews the poetic modes and devices by which Middle English contemplative works perform the contemplations that they describe. The homologies between plays and other contemplative writings go deeper than thematic borrowings or citations, extending down to the fine detail of how literary and dramatic form and contemplative theology interpenetrate each other in the transmission of contemplative modes of knowing to a Middle English audience. All of these works’ investments in the experiential rendering of a human’s participation in God create in them a through-line not just of theological ideas, but indeed of local formal and stylistic practice, which underpins the larger-scale paraphrases, citations, and other borrowings in the texts. In essence, this book hopes, through the phenomenon of participatory vernacular contemplation, to have shed light on the poetry of late Middle English drama as poetry. All of the works in this book manifest how the vernacular brings with it a host of formal resources for staging participatory contemplation, whether the vernacular work in question is prose, poetry, or drama. English is not just a language, but also an aggregate of sensory expectations that can be exploited in a way that draws audiences into participatory states of contemplation.

Keywords:   contemplation, vernacularity, poetics, drama, participation

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