Medieval Drama in Early England
The course examines early English drama through the lens of cultural adaptation and will culminate with a trip to York, England to watch a modern production of medieval mystery plays.
Most of us have had some encounter with early English drama through the works of Shakespeare. Medieval drama, in comparison, is relatively unknown, rarely adapted or performed on contemporary stages. Part of this has to do with theater history: until very recently, the history of early English drama could be summarized as an attempt to explain the emergence of Shakespeare and his stage. Recent scholarship, however, argues that the very thing that previously made these texts seem so challenging and unformed is that which makes them so fascinating: the cultures that produced them, the places where they were staged, even the language they are written in are all in the process of becoming…something new. These are texts in formation. As such, they reveal surprising knowledge about the cultures that produced them and those that seek to adapt them. Our course will culminate with a short trip abroad to explore one such production: the 2010 York mystery cycle.
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The 2010 York mystery cycle thus offers a rare opportunity for students to examine medieval play texts within a modern performance venue; during our week abroad, we will examine medieval religion and theater history in a variety of settings, including the streets of York. We will fly into Edinburgh, Scotland for two days, spend two days touring abbeys and moors of North England (Whitby Abbey & Rieveleux Abbey), and then spend three days in York, exploring the medieval city, meeting with a guild that is modernizing one of the plays, attending a conference on them, and watching the production. As we shall see, medieval dramatic adaptation has much to teach us about the relationship between plays and playing, both then and now.
Informational meetings: Wednesday, January 27th and Thursday, February 25th
Application Deadline: March 1, 2010
On Campus Dates: May 17-June 26 (Tues & Thurs, 6:10-8:20pm)
Overseas Dates: July 3-13
For more information, visit http://studyabroad.gwu.edu/index.cfm
Or contact: Holly Dugan (firstname.lastname@example.org), Assistant Professor of English at GWU