Reviewed Elsewhere: Sally Harper, Paul S. Barnwell and Magnus Williamson, eds. Late Medieval Liturgies Enacted. The Experience of Worship in Cathedral and Parish Church.

Michael Berkowitz's picture

Sally Harper, Paul S. Barnwell and Magnus Williamson, eds. Late Medieval Liturgies Enacted. The Experience of Worship in Cathedral and Parish Church. Farnham: Ashgate, 2016. xxvi + 349 pp. £95.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-1-4724-4137-9.

This volume is the result of a series of enactments of late medieval liturgies from 2008–2013 carried out as part of a collaborative AHRC and ESRC research project "The Experience of Worship in Late Medieval Cathedral and Parish Church". ... The volume, which focuses on English liturgy ... is accompanied by a website with a variety of additional resources, including texts of the rite and rubrics used, and videos of the enactments. ...

The volume is divided into five parts. The first reflects on the experience of late medieval worship in medieval church buildings. The second addresses the dynamics of "recreating" past material cultures ... The third part is the most traditionally historical, encompassing three case studies devoted to the choir of Salisbury Cathedral (Roger Bowers), the practice of Tudor descanters (Jane Flynn), and the cult of the Holy Name of Jesus (Judith Aveling). ... The fourth section of the volume places the experience of the medieval liturgy in dialogue with the experiences of participants in the modern enactments. ...

The most useful and direct theoretical engagement comes in Nils Holger Petersen’s excellent reflections on the historical hermeneutics of performance, which do not quite harmonise with the remainder of the project. For Pietersen, who sees the questions raised by historical enactments as representative of wider questions of historical hermeneutics, "what is historical about the enactment is not the actual enactment, but the notion that the ceremonies in question were, historically, neither written material or a combination of a particular space and written material, but were indeed performative events themselves." ...

As it is, the current volume reads very much like a progress report on a project which is not yet finished. ... The reader who engages with Late Medieval Liturgies Enacted will find considerable food for thought about how historical doing can contribute to historical knowing. But, as always, more remains to be both done and known.

Matthew Championhttp://www.hsozkult.de/publicationreview/id/rezbuecher-25769