Illinois Medieval Association 

Serving Illinois Medievalists since 1983

Place, Space, & Identity: Illinois Medieval Association 2021-22 Symposium Session 1

  • 25 Sep 2021
  • 1:00 PM - 3:00 PM
  • Online


Registration is closed

“Wherever you go, there you are.” This slogan of mindfulness and wisecracks dates back at least as far as Thomas á Kempis’ Imitation of Christ: “You cannot escape it, run where you will; for wherever you go, you take yourself with you, and you will always find yourself.” The gnomic statement is faithful to the etymology of the word, Latin idem, meaning the same, but is it true? Do places and spaces have no effect on identity? Is Gawain really the same person after the Green Chapel, or Troilus after his first sight of Criseyde in the Temple of Minerva, or Henryson’s Cresseid after the doom of the pagan gods in the temple of Venus? More existentially, in Dante’s Commedia place determines how identity works. Souls in Hell are condensed to the sin that now defines them completely and eternally. In Purgatory, souls are also confined by their sins, “but only for a time: salvation looms when they deem themselves purged and ready to climb into a new identity” (Risden). The identities of audiences are also shaped by the performance of sacred texts. The Wakefield Master’s Shepherds Pageants have the capacity to introduce Eliade’s in illo tempore into quotidian times, minds and places. In these pageants, “performance transforms everyday space from fifteenth-century English village green, innyard, great hall, or street to fifteenth-century English pasture and then first-century Palestinian pasture, cattle shed, and manger,” thereby “inviting [audiences] to deeper reflection through performing space and identity” (Hodapp). This session thus reflects upon those crucial moments when being there makes all the difference.

“Transforming Space through Performing Place and Identity in the Towneley Shepherds Pageants” 

William F. Hodapp, Ph. D., The College of St. Scholastica

“Space, Place, and Identity in Dante’s Commedia

E. L. Risden, Professor Emeritus, St. Norbert College

“Temple Troubles: Space and Identity in Middle English Troy and Thebes Narratives”

Nickolas Haydock, University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez

English Department, Millikin University, 1184 W. Main St., Decatur, IL, 62522

Phone: 217-362-6465


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