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ENGL 609.72 - Medieval Drama and Performance

Instructor: Dr. Jacqueline Jenkins
Schedule: Wednesday 9:30-12:15

Course Description:

This course will consider dramatic literature and questions of performance in the English Middle Ages, drawing on surviving dramatic texts, as well as records of, or references to, dramatic activity. Though a distressingly small number of Middle English play-scripts survive, the extant evidence nevertheless tells us that the medieval English theatre cut across, and frequently combined, many genres, including liturgical and biblical narrative, farce or fabliaux, saints’ legends and miracle stories, and moral and political allegory. In this course, we will read both explicitly dramatic Middle English works and texts that challenge the categories of ‘dramatic’ and ‘non-dramatic’. Through supplementary readings from both medieval records (accessible through the work of REED primarily) and contemporary critical work, we will be attentive to the ways questions of audience, venue and occasion complicate and enrich our understanding of medieval performance and performance texts. As part of our critical approach to the texts we discuss, students will have the opportunity to test ideas discussed in class in a series of informal performance workshops; in these workshops, supported by readings and discussions of practice-based research, students will work together in small groups, with presentations on the performances in the last quarter of the term. Other assignments will include the seminar papers, responses and final research essay. 

Weekly readings will consist of both primary medieval texts as well as regular critical readings, to be drawn from the Cambridge Companion to Medieval English Theatre (online TFDL) and supplemented with readings available online from our library holdings or made available in a course-pack. The Broadview Anthology of Medieval Drama is a student edition designed to present medieval texts to non-specialists, so no prior knowledge of Middle English is required for this course. 

Primary Text for the class:

Fitzgerald, Christina M. and John T. Sebastian, eds. The Broadview Anthology of Medieval Drama. Broadview, 2012.