Worlds of Care: Medieval and Early Modern Drama and Why It Still Matters Today  (Roundtable)


British / Pedagogy & Professional

Barbara Bono (SUNY University at Buffalo)

Theresa Coletti (University of Maryland College Park)

Maria Horne (SUNY University at Buffalo)

Proceeding from the beginning to the end of time, occurring in a ritual space, and focusing on moments of extraordinary joy, suffering, humor, and election, medieval drama maps worlds of vulnerability and interconnectedness. Its scope has continued to inspire re-enactment and adaptation from Passion Plays and the Mormon Hill Cumorah pageants to Yiimimangaliso, a South African version of the Chester mystery plays stressing truth and reconciliation, and Brandon Jacob-Jenkins’ reworking of the medieval morality play Everyman as Everybody.

Focusing that theatrical mappa mundi in more specific times and places, early modern drama turned ritual toward negotiation and commodity, adapting many of those same plots and tropes, retaining their resonance but sharpening their moment. For example, the body of the crucified Christ becomes the murdered son Horatio in Kyd’s The Spanish Tragedy and the medieval World, Flesh, and Devil become the commercial venture tripartite of the butler Face, the prostitute Dol and the alchemist Subtle in Jonson’s The Alchemist. Today that drama is ripe for re-workings in new media such as film and graphic novels.

There is no more ragged and productive literary seam than that which joins medieval and early modern drama, and none more fruitful for a discussion of a pedagogy which takes in performance and modern adaptation. Building on our 2021 NeMLA Roundtable “Bringing Medieval Drama to Life: Scholarship, Performance, Pedagogy,“ the organizers of this Roundtable—themselves collaborators across fields of literary scholarship and performance—hope to bring together scholars, teachers, and acting practitioners to explore this proposition.. We are especially interested in scholarly and pedagogical approaches that foreground the relationship of medieval and early modern theatrical pasts to present moments.
This roundtable hopes to bring together scholars, teachers, and acting practitioners to explore the literary seam that joins medieval and early modern drama, and a pedagogy that takes in performance and modern adaptation. We are especially interested in scholarly and pedagogical approaches that foreground the relationship of medieval and early modern theatrical pasts to present moments.