4. Performance Programme

Todd (2002, 169-73) discusses the performance of discipline in Turnerian terms of separation and reintegration; the sackcloth as the garment that erases individual qualities, making the sinner a part of a communitas of 'Sinners' and thus removed from normal society (Turner 1995). For Todd, the stool and jougs similarly represent spaces that further separate the individual from his or her normal social identity and community. Though this engages with superficial artefact meanings, the function of the performance is given primacy. This is interpreted as the creation of the opportunity for social bonding and the elimination of transgressions within the community: public discipline 'worked' because people were anxious to expunge their sins and rejoin society by being allowed access to the sacraments (Todd 2002, 171). To the early Reformed Scot, however, this answered why discipline was perpetuated, but not why the practice emerged or how discipline was achieved. The 'performance as function' approach declares that punishments were shaming (Graham 1996; Mentzer 2000; Parker 2000; Todd 2002). However, relying upon this declaration without exploring it does not allow for the explanation of innovations in punishment. Such studies, therefore, struggle to explain why specific artefacts were created, and why they were shaming. Many layers of the performance of discipline are, therefore, lost, as integral novel connections are overlooked. Perhaps this is why the prolific Scottish branks and jougs warrant only a single paragraph between them in Todd's 450-page monograph (2002, 142-43).

Recounting extracts from kirk session records allows insight into the fact that people had varying opinions about being punished or participating in the community, some throwing themselves at the mercy of the session, others contemptuous (cf. Graham 1996; Todd 2002). However, such studies rely upon the consciously written, as opposed to the subconsciously understood, narratives of the performance, thereby missing many elements of the context-specific embodied experience which can provide deeper insight into that performance. Ultimately, such studies relate some layers of the performance of discipline, but cannot translate experiences.

The following series of diagrams relate information from discipline case extracts, and are intended to supply the basic background knowledge required to understand the mechanics of performing discipline culture and underline the social function of discipline. All diagrams are based on collated data from Knox (1972 [1621] [1559], Graham (1996), Harrison (1998), and Todd (2002). Many parishes would have several different penitents appearing in the same week, all at different stages of their repentance, and most would have had at least one penitent every week. The rebuke of the penitent and their apology took place after prayers, Scripture, hymns, and exhortations to repent, at the end of the church service. As can be seen from Figure 2, excommunication was always a last resort and could be reversed: the objective was reintegration of the sinner into the community through 'receiving'. This involved a set routine of phrases passed between minister and audience with the offer to reject or accept the sinner into the body of Christ, followed by thanksgivings. Sufficient remorse was a prerequisite for being received and required postures of humility, shows of anguish, crying, self-condemnation, pleas for forgiveness and renouncement of sin (Knox 1972 [1621] [1559]; Graham 1996; Todd 2002).

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