To Chester and Beyond: Meaning, Text and Context in Early English Drama: Shifting Paradigms in Early English Drama Studies, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

To Chester and Beyond: Meaning, Text and Context in Early English Drama

Shifting Paradigms in Early English Drama Studies, 1st Edition

By David Mills

Edited by Philip Butterworth


370 pages

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Hardback: 9781472478894
pub: 2016-06-21

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This volume brings together a selection of the major articles of David Mills (1938-2013), which along with similar volumes by Alexandra F. Johnston, Peter Meredith and Meg Twycross makes up a set of "Shifting Paradigms in Early English Drama Studies". Mills was one of these four key scholars whose work has changed what is known about English medieval drama and theatre. He made major contributions to understanding English medieval theatre in the widest sense but more specifically to the nature and development of medieval plays and their performance at Chester. The scope of his work from manuscript to performance has created new knowledge and insights brought about by his remarkable technical skill as an editor and researcher. His texts of the Chester Cycle of Mystery Plays have become the standard works. In the light of this outstanding research the volume is comprised of four sections: 1. Editors and Editing; 2. Cultural Contexts; 3. Staging and Performance; 4. Criticism and Evaluation. An editorial introduction opens the work.

Table of Contents

Introduction, Philip Butterworth. Section 1 Editors and Editing: Modern editions of medieval English plays; Theories and practices in the editing of the Chester cycle play manuscripts; Medievalism and revival: editors and editions. Section 2 Cultural Contexts: Approaches to medieval drama; Music and musicians in Chester: a summary account; Chester's midsummer show: creation and adaptation; 'A tale of two cities: Chester and Coventry in the 1490s. Section 3 Staging and Performance: The theatres of Everyman; The ‘behold and see’ convention in medieval drama; Characterisation in the English mystery cycles; ‘None had the like nor the like darste set out’: the city of Chester and its mystery cycle. Section 4 Criticism and Evaluation: The ‘now’ of ‘then’; I know my place: some thoughts on status and station in the English mystery plays; No place like home: the Northampton 'Abraham and Isaac' play, a re-appraisal; 'The Towneley plays' or 'the Towneley cycle'?. Section 5 Audience - Defenders and Opponents: Who are our customers? The audience for Chester's plays; Where have all the players gone? A Chester problem; Chester's covenant theology; ‘Some precise cittizins’: puritan objections to Chester's plays; Some theological issues in Chester's plays. Section 6 Views on the Antiquarians: Netta Syrett and the old miracle plays of England; Replaying the medieval past: revivals of Chester's mystery plays; The antiquarians and the critics: the Chester plays and the criticism of early English drama; ‘The 1951 revival’and ‘The new tradition’. Index.

About the Author/Editor

David Mills (1938-2013) was Emeritus Professor of English at the University of Liverpool, UK; Philip Butterworth is Visiting Research Fellow at the Institute for Medieval Studies, University of Leeds, UK

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:
PERFORMING ARTS / Theater / General