Festivals and Plays in Late Medieval Britain  book cover
1st Edition

Festivals and Plays in Late Medieval Britain

ISBN 9781138251847
Published November 28, 2016 by Routledge
216 Pages

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Book Description

Based in records and iconography, this book surveys medieval festival playing in Britain more comprehensively than any other work to date. The study presents an inclusive view of the drama in the British Isles, from Kilkenny to Great Yarmouth, from Scotland to Cornwall. It offers detailed readings of individual plays-including the York Creed Play, Pentecost and Corpus Christi plays and the little studied Bodley plays, among others - as well as a summary of what is known of their production. Clifford Davidson here extends the usual chronological range to include work typically categorized as early modern, enabling a juxtaposition of earlier plays with later plays to yield a better understanding of both. Complementing documentary evidence with iconographic detail and citation of music, he pinpoints a number of common misconceptions about medieval drama. By organizing the study around the rituals of the liturgical seasons, he clarifies the relationship between liturgical feast and dramatic celebration.

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface; Part I The Landscape of Festival Drama; Playing and the ritual year; 'Corpus Christi Play' and the Feast of Corpus Christi; The York Corpus Christi Guild and drama; Play and spectacle at Pentecost. Part II Some Aspects of 2 genres of Festival Drama: Suffering and the York cycle plays; The vernacular plays for Good Friday and Easter from ms. e Museo 160; Select bibliography; Index.

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Clifford Davidson is Professor of English and Medieval Studies Emeritus at Western Michigan University, USA. For many years he was a co-editor of Comparative Drama, and from 1976 to 2003 he directed the Early Drama, Art, and Music project in the Medieval Institute. He is the author of numerous books and articles, including History, Religion, and Violence: Cultural Contexts for Medieval and Renaissance English Drama (Ashgate, 2002).


’The book adds much to our knowledge of the occasions on which plays were shown and performances authorized. The reader will admire Davidson's diligence with archives...’ Times Literary Supplement 'Festivals and Plays offers thoughtful readings of some important northern biblical dramas and contains a valuable survey of dramatic activity associated with the religious festivals of late medieval and early modern Britain.' Medium Aevum 'As a study of the range and variety of playing at festivals in the late Middle Ages, it is both astute and accessible and will appeal to all scholars and students of medieval drama and theatre history.' Notes and Queries