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Medieval English Theatre : Context and Performance

Faculté de gestion: Faculté des lettres

Responsable(s): Denis Renevey
Intervenant(s): -

Période de validité: 2012 -> 2012

Pas d'horaire défini.


Semestre de printemps
2 heures par semaine
28 heures par semestre

Langue(s) d'enseignement: anglais
Public: Oui
Crédits: 0


Was Shakespeare influenced by medieval drama? Extant manuscript evidence demonstrates that medieval drama was flourishing in England in the late fourteenth century and beyond. If most of the material, made up of individual plays or cycles of plays, is religious in content, there is evidence that secular theatre was also performed at that time. However, material from the Mystery Cycles (York, Chester, Towneley and N Town) is going to be at the centre of our investigations. We will try to understand how these different cycles were performed and how the involvement of the urban community had a large impact on the way in which drama was performed and how it addressed and reflected some of the tensions (social, religious, cultural) that pervaded that transitional period. We will also consider themes such as gender, emotional strategies, violence, virtuous characters, the psychology of evil, religion and popular culture. In the end, we will also assess modern performances of medieval plays from the York and Chester Cycles, using some on-line visual material and recordings of the 2006 York Mystery Plays.

This seminar is linked to two English Department events. Indeed, this year our traditional 'Chaucer in the Alps' week-end becomes 'Mystery Plays in the Alps' , taking place on 27-28 April at the Capucine Châlet in Les Diablerets. The week-end will be led by Professor Elisabeth Dutton (University of Fribourg) who is an expert in medieval and early modern theatre, as well as stage director. She will lead workshops on some of the medieval plays we will have read during the seminar, with a view towards performing some of them during the week-end. Secondly, the annual English Department theatre trip will stop in Chester for a performance of some of the Chester Mystery plays in the nave of Chester cathedral on Monday 1 July, as part of the London-Chester-Stratford trip. The performance will be preceded by a luxury buffet in a 13th Century Monks Dining Hall!

The course can be taken even if students are not planning to attend the trip. In case of difficulty in attending the 'Mystery Plays in the Alps' week-end, students will write an extended essay (12 to 14 pages, not including the bibliography) instead of the usual 8 to 10 pages one. Please note that the week-end replaces two weeks of classes.

Two important dates to remember:

27-28 April 2013: Mystery Plays in the Alps: A Two-day Workshop led by Elisabeth Dutton, professor of medieval English at the University of Fribourg

1 July 2013: Chester Cycle performance in Chester Cathedral, as part of the English department London-Chester-Stratford trip.

Set texts:

- English Mystery Plays: A Selection, ed. by Peter Happé (London: Penguin Books, 1985).

- The Cambridge Companion to Medieval English Theatre, ed. by Richard Beadle and Alan Fletcher (Cambridge: CUP, 2008): available online from BCU.


Students will be assessed by means of active participation and the submission of an essay

Exigences du cursus d'études

Credit received for IMLL 1 and IMLL 2 modules

Informations supplémentaires


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Swiss University
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