Memorial Tablet, Master of the Spes Rostra

Ritual, Liturgy & the Body

This strand of the project is led by Professor Brian Cummings at York. In it we analyse the body and performance as sites of remembrance at both the personal and communal level.

Medieval Latin liturgy was suffused with bodily rituals, many of which were treated with suspicion by Protestants as signs of superstition or idolatry. Yet the reformed also appealed to gesture, emotion and the senses as proof of sincerity in the expression of ‘feeling faith’. In this strand of the project we investigate the reformation of ritual and ceremony in the early modern world, both in the public performance of religion in the guise of the liturgy (the Book of Common Prayer) and in private devotion and worship ranging from recusant to puritan. We consider the critical role of repetitive practices in the constitution of memory, and attend especially to the affective dimensions of these mnemonic processes — the role of song and sound, as well as gesture and text, in transmitting memory.