There’s Something About Mary: Negotiating the Identity of Mary Magdalen in “Ludus Mariae Magdalenae in gaudio”
1st prize winner of the Friends of Fondren Library Undergraduate Research Awards, 2015
Historically, Mary Magdalene is presented as a both sinner and penitent, prophet and a disciple, exemplar of both independence and submission, encompassing the profane and secular, as well as the transcendence of sainthood. The character of Mary Magdalen is rife with dualities. The juxtaposition of these traits is created, communicated, and addressed via musical, linguistic, and structural means in “Ludus Mariae Magdalenae in gaudio,” a fifteenth century Magdalenspiel found in a collection of Passion plays. Though the obvious, traditional message of the Magdalenian conversion emphasizes compliance with the patriarchal standards of the time, in “Ludus Mariae Magdalenae in guadio” musical and textual tools were used to create the subtle suggestion that the secular, pre-penitential Mary was more accessible, complicating the interpretation of Mary Magdalen in this specific composition.