The Materials of Early Theatre: Sources, Images, and Performance: Shifting Paradigms in Early English Drama Studies, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Materials of Early Theatre: Sources, Images, and Performance

Shifting Paradigms in Early English Drama Studies, 1st Edition

By Meg Twycross

Edited by Sarah Carpenter, Pamela King


448 pages | 83 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2017-12-04
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Collected Studies CS 1068

The essays selected for this volume are chosen to reflect the important and intersecting ways in which over the last forty years Meg Twycross has shifted paradigms for people reading early English religious drama. The focus of Meg Twycross’s research has been on performance in its many aspects, and this volume chooses four of the most important strands of her work - the York plays; new ways of understanding acting and performance in late medieval theatre, particularly in Britain and across Europe; why scenes are staged in the ways they are, verbally and by extrapolation visually, by close reading of texts against the background of medieval theology; and the attention paid to wider contexts of medieval theatre - concentrating especially on essays that are not easily available today. 

These thematic strands are reflective of Meg Twycross’s major contribution to the field. They also represent those areas from her wider work which will have most utility and value for those, whether students or senior specialists in areas beyond early drama, who are looking for ways into understanding English medieval plays. The crucial work that has been done here has opened new perspectives on late medieval theatre, and will allow new generations to begin their study and research from further along the road.

Table of Contents

Introduction by Sarah Carpenter and Pamela King

Part I: York

  1. ‘"Places to hear the play": Pageant Stations at York 1398–1572’, Records of Early English Drama Newsletter (1978:2), pp. 10–33
  2. ‘The Left-Hand-Side Theory: A Retraction’, Medieval English Theatre 14 (1992), pp. 77–94
  3. ‘Some Aliens in York and their Overseas Connections up to 1470’, Leeds Studies in English, n.s. 29 (1998), pp. 359–80
  4. ‘The King’s Peace and the Play: the York Corpus Christi Eve Proclamation’, Medieval English Theatre 29 (2007), pp. 121–150
  5. ‘The Ordo Paginarum revisited with a Digital Camera’, ‘Bring furth the pagants’: Essays in Early English Drama presented to Alexandra F. Johnston, ed. by David N. Klausner and Karen Sawyer Marsalek (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2007), pp. 105–131
  6. Part II: Performance

  7. ‘"Playing the Resurrection"’, Medieval Studies for J.A.W. Bennett Aetatis Suae LXX,ed. by Peter Heyworth (Oxford: Clarendon, 1981), pp. 273-96
  8. ‘Books for the Unlearned’, Drama and Religion,ed. by James Redmond (Cambridge University Press, 1983), pp. 65–110
  9. ‘"Transvestism" in the Mystery Plays’, Medieval English Theatre 5:2 (1983), pp. 123–80
  10. Part III: Theology

  11. ‘"As the sun with his beams when he is most bright"’, Medieval English Theatre, 12:1 (1990), pp. 34–79
  12. ‘"With what body shall they come?": Black and White Souls in the Mystery Plays’, Langland, the Mystics, and the Medieval Religious Tradition, ed. by Helen Phillips (Cambridge: Brewer, 1990), pp. 271–86.
  13. ‘Kissing Cousins: The Four Daughters of God and the Visitation in the N.Town Mary Play’, Medieval English Theatre, 18 (1998 for 1996), pp. 99–141
  14. Part IV: Processions and the wider culture

  15. ‘The Flemish Ommegang and its Pageant Cars’, Medieval English Theatre, 2:1 (1980), 15–41, and 2:2 (1980), pp. 80–98
  16. ‘Felsted of London: silk-dyer and theatrical entrepreneur’, Medieval English Theatre, 10:1 (1988), pp. 4–16
  17. ‘The York Mercers’ Lewent Brede and the Hanseatic Trade’, Medieval English Theatre, 17 (1995), pp. 96–119
  18. ‘The Leuven Ommegang and Leuven City Archives’, European Drama 4: Selected papers from the Fourth International Conference on ‘Aspects of European Medieval Drama’, Camerino, 5-8 August 1999, ed. by André Lascombes (Turnhout: Brepols, 2001), pp. 77–90

Meg Twycross’ bibliography

About the Author/Editors

Meg Twycross is Emeritus Professor of English at Lancaster University, UK.

Sarah Carpenter has taught in the English Literature Department of the University of Edinburgh for the last forty years. She is the author, with Meg Twycross, of Masks and Masking in Medieval and Tudor England and has published widely on early drama, most often on issues of performance. She is an editor of the journal "Medieval English Theatre", and is currently working on the volume on the Royal Court for the Records of Early Drama: Scotland.

Pamela King holds a fractional chair in the department of English Language and Linguistics in the University of Glasgow. She previously held the chair in Medieval Studies in the University of Bristol. She is author of The York Cycle and the Worship of the City (2006) and Medieval Literature 1350-1500 (2011), and most recently edited The Routledge Research Companion to Early Drama and Performance. She has written and edited a number of other things on late medieval and early modern subjects, chiefly on drama, and has collaborated on projects and articles with Meg Twycross.

About the Series

Variorum Collected Studies

The first title in the Variorum Collected Studies series was published in 1970. Since then well over 1000 titles have appeared in the series, and it has established a well-earned international reputation for the publication of key research across a whole range of subjects within the fields of history.

The history of the medieval world remains central to the series, with Byzantine studies a particular speciality, but the range of titles extends from Hellenistic philosophy and the history of the Roman empire and early Christianity, through the Renaissance and Reformation, up to the 20th century. Islamic Studies forms another major strand as do the histories of science, technology and medicine.

Each title in the Variorum Collected Studies series brings together for the first time a selection of articles by a leading authority on a particular subject. These studies are reprinted from a vast range of learned journals, Festschrifts and conference proceedings. They make available research that is scattered, even inaccessible in all but the largest and most specialized libraries. With a new introduction and index, and often with new notes and previously unpublished material, they constitute an essential resource. 

For further information about contributing to the series please contact Michael Greenwood at

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Medieval
LITERARY COLLECTIONS / Ancient, Classical & Medieval