Introduction: Claire’s Key Phrases

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Philological Quarterly


This article surveys the scholarship of Claire Sponsler across her career, focusing on its theoretical infrastructure. With assistance from Raymond Williams’s concept of “keywords,” the essay finds Sponsler’s interest in “embodied subjects” characterizes the beginning decade and her first book, Drama and Resistance: Bodies, Goods, and Theatricality in Later Medieval England (1997). In the next decade the idea of “cultural appropriation” structured the arguments of her second book, Ritual Imports: Performing Medieval Drama in America (2004). In the final decade, her books on John Lydgate (2010 and 2014) concerned generic “boundary crossing” of many kinds. The essay shows Sponsler’s important influence in bringing cultural theory to medieval studies.