Course Description

Medieval Drama and Theatre Studies is an Internet Assisted course designed to connect dramatic texts with theatre history from 900 to 1500: a period which represents a cycle starting from itinerate players on the fringes of respectable society; to devotional dramas inside cathedrals, monasteries, nunneries and great halls; to popular, guild-sponsored biblical cycle plays in town squares and ditches outside the city walls; and finally, out of favor again as much a result of religious and civic censorship as the appearance of Vitruvius books on architecture in 1486, which challenged the medieval representation of time as a cycle.  The course will contextualize medieval drama and theatre on the basis of several motives: to establish religious orthodoxy; to expand new-found leisure time into recreation; and to use resources to finance public events. Specific readings and historical materials will aim at submerging students in medieval life and thought as reflected in medieval performances. To this end, selected cycle plays will be read for their distinctive features, that is, how they differ from one another as well as from their biblical origins. Additionally, attention will be given to the ingenuity of medieval staging devices, financial records, public literacy and social codes; lives of performers; and common practices during theatre performances.
Owing to Internet Assistance, the flavor and color of medieval life

will be facilitated by links to recordings of music from the middle ages; visual resources representing medieval art and architecture; library holdings of prestigious medieval academies; and both ancient and modern examples of medieval theatre performances. Students will have special access to video recordings of the FJU 2000 Medieval Festival and Forum which feature five medieval plays and scholarly paper presentations.

Coursework and student-teacher communications will be computer-assisted.  Selected relevant critical texts include: (1) Medieval Drama by David Bevington, ; (2) The Medieval Stage by E. K.Chambers; (3) A New History of Early English Drama, edited by John D. Cox and David Scott Kastan; (4)Theatre in the Middle Ages by William Tydeman; and (5)The Medieval Theatre by Glynne Wickham.

Course textbooks

John C. Coldewey, ed. Early English Drama (An Anthology), New York and London: Garland     Publishing, Inc., 1993.
Tony Harrison. The Mysteries, London and Boston: faber and faber, 1985.

Complete dramatic texts include:


Everyman, Wisdom, Mankind, The Digby Mary Magalene, and three cycles from The Mysteries -- The Nativity, The Passion and Doomsday

Selected dramatic texts from The Brome and Chester Cycles Abraham and Isaac, The Digby Killing of the Children

Internet text from one of the York Cycle of Mystery Plays ( to be chosen by the student)



Selected Historical Readings :


The course will examine the following plays in depth: Everyman, Wisdom, Mankind, the Digby Mary Magdalene and the three cycles of Mystery Plays (The Nativity, The Passion and Doomsday) arranged by Tony Harrison. 

Reference Materials :

Carole Armstrong. Lives and Legends of the Saints. London : Francis Lincolm, 1995.

Sylnan Barnet, Morton Berman and William Burto, Eds. The Genius of the Eartly English Theatre. New York : A Mentor Book, 1962.

David Bevington, Medireview Drama. Boston : Houghton Mifflin Company, 1975.

Oscar Brockett. History of the Theatre. Boston : Allyn Bacon, 1995. (7th Edition)

Gail McMurray Gibson. The Theatre of Devotion (East Anglian Drama and Society in the Late Middle Ages. Chicago : The University of Chicago Press, 1989. Peter Happe. Ed. English Mystery Plays. Middlesex, England : Penquin Books, 1985.

S. M.Houghton. Sketches from Church History. Edinburgh : The Banner of Truth Trust, 1980.

Milton D. Hunnex : Chronological and Thematic Charts of Philosophies and Philosophers. Grand Rapids, Michigan : Zondervan Publishing House, 1986.

Simon Trussler. The Cambridge Illustrated History of British Theatre. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 1994.

List of readings :

1.Roman Britain and the Early Middle Ages 2.The High Middle Ages 3.The Early Church to the Rise of Islam 4.Religion and Philosophy Charts 5.The Church 6.The Parish 7.The New Theatre 8.School and Scholars ; Books and Authors 9.Small Business 10.Explanatory Notes Section III 11.Maps of Europe in Early and Late Middle Ages 12.reconstruction of mansion in medireview church
Selected readings will be included from Dux Moraud, The Pride of Life, The Brome and Chester Cycle Abraham and Isaac, The Digby Conversion of St. Paul, The Digby Killing of the Children and The Croxto Play of the Sacrament.


@Course requirements

10%Class participation
35%Three short (1 - 2 pages) essays and five identification quizzes

15%One longer essay (5 - 7 pages)

20%Midterm exam (to include both short essay and objective questions

20%Final exam (to include both short essay and objective questions)

*Proposed essay topics and questions will be given to students in advance; other topics may be substituted by special permission.  The contents of papers will be evaluated on the basis of originality, understanding, use of research methods and language accuracy. Obviously, plagiarism is unacceptable