Course Code
ENAM 0125
Course Type
Subject Credit
Course Availability

The world of the medieval English stage meshes humour, violence, music, oratory, academic debate, and visions of human tenderness in pursuit of artistic, theological and ethical aims in both the spiritual and material realms. Although critically neglected, English drama before Shakespeare is sophisticated, self-reflexive and creatively meta-theatrical. Before the construction of professional theatres, plays were performed in spaces - both public and private - which were not exclusively “theatrical” but also domestic, religious, legal and commercial. Dramatic performances exploited the boundaries between art and social context, drawing the audience into the world of the play whilst foregrounding its irony and unreality. The course will explore early drama in all its variety: morality and miracle plays, mystery cycles, liturgies, farces, masques, mummers, minstrelsy and more!

Core texts:

York Mystery Plays, ed. Richard Beadle and Pamela King (Oxford World’s Classics) 

Everyman and Medieval Miracle Plays, ed. A. C. Cawley (Dent/Dutton Everyman)

Three Late Medieval Morality Plays, ed. G. A. Lester (Benn/Norton)

The Cambridge Companion to Medieval English Theatre, 2nd edn, ed. Richard Beadle and Alan J. Fletcher (Cambridge University Press)