After the second and most serious eucharistic controversy of the medieval period, the Fourth Lateran Council of 1215 declared it doctrine that the historical body of Christ was present in the consecrated eucharistic bread and wine, and that believing otherwise was tantamount to heresy. This enforced literalisation of metaphorical statements recorded in the New Testament was part of wider changes happening in Christian worship, with the festival of Corpus Christi being another significant development. From such rigidity on a theological front, however, comes a flourish of literature which takes the body of Christ as central to its being. This course will explore the religious, cultural and literary consequences of such momentous changes in late-medieval Christian worship. The York Corpus Christi Cycle and the Croxton Play of the Sacrament are among the texts that insist on the importance of Christ's body, and we will also read devotional texts alongside these plays. All texts will be posted on Moodle for students to download.
- Teacher: Sarah Jane Brazil