Mary Magdalene and the Drama of Saints: Theater, Gender, and Religion in Late Medieval England

University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004

A sinner-saint who embraced then renounced sexual and worldly pleasures; a woman who, through her attachment to Jesus, embodied both erotic and sacred power; a symbol of penance and an exemplar of contemplative and passionate devotion: perhaps no figure stood closer to the center of late medieval debates about the sources of spiritual authority and women's contribution to salvation history than did Mary Magdalene, and perhaps nowhere in later medieval England was cultural preoccupation with the Magdalene stronger than in fifteenth-century East Anglia. Looking to East Anglian texts including the N-Town Plays, The Book of Margery Kempe, The Revelations of Julian of Norwich, and Bokenham's Legend of Holy Women, Coletti explores how the gendered symbol of Mary Magdalene mediates tensions between masculine and feminine spiritual power.