Helen Cushman F'17

Helen  Cushman
Assistant Professor
English and Comparative Literature
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships 2017
Doctoral Candidate
Harvard University
Producing Knowledge in the Middle English Mystery Plays

This project focuses on theories of knowledge in the English mystery plays. It argues that the plays model and construct new hybrid methods of knowledge production that combine what were often coded as either clerical or lay modes of knowledge: namely, knowledge derived from authority or knowledge acquired through experience. The plays stage received knowledge as something that is subject to physical testing in practice. That is, knowledge from authority can be used to design material experiments that employ artisanal, medical, and professional experience and expertise. As a result, the plays empowered lay audiences to participate in the process of knowledge production, to re-envision received theological knowledge, and, most importantly, to evaluate and restructure the forms of discourse that produce and disseminate knowledge.