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Martin Kevorkian, Chair CAL 226, Mailcode B5000, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4991

Spring 2008

E 361K • English Drama to 1642

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
35200 MWF
10:00 AM-11:00 AM
PAR 105
Birkholz, D

Course Description

PERFORMING MEDIEVAL CULTURE-- This seminar-style, participation-heavy course will examine early English dramatic practice via an approach that is text-based but also interdisciplinary-not to mention conceptually expansive. This means considering not only medieval 'plays' themselves, but also social performance (i.e., occasions of heightened role-playing) in a broader sense: the performance of community and/or identity, of social manners and political standing, of gender, discipline, devotion, and more.

On a first level, we will analyze how and to what ends medieval subjects themselves (performers and audiences alike) make meaning through dramatic activity. But more than simply seeking to recover some supposedly authentic version of the medieval past, we will also ask what exactly it means to 'perform the medieval' in a contemporary context. In other words, we shall push beyond the usual activity of scholarly 'reconstruction' (however responsible) to consider what is involved in any attempt to 'get medieval'-in this case to engage with an early English dramatic inheritance. Ultimately, we shall look to produce re-stagings of the medieval that are authoritative in their textual and historical precision, yet open to the creative influences of both past and present.

Students should expect considerable attention to the writing process in all its steps, and will acquire a set of critical tools (writing, reading, research, and analytical skills) that will enable them to approach classic texts in new and original ways. No prior experience with early literary study is expected, but student engagement, enthusiasm, and self-direction are highly desirable.

Grading Policy

Assignment specifics discussed in class; percentages approximate & subject to change.

Paper I: Textual Analysis (5-7+ pp.; research, prospectus & draft required) 30%
Paper II: Group Production Project (4-5 pp; research, creativity & presentation required) 25%
Paper III: Synthetic Essay (4-5 pp; no new research expected) 20%
In-Class Performance (semi-formal essays, discussion, engagement, process work) 25%
On-time Attendance (every absence beginning w/#4 will reduce grade; NC at #9), Required
On-time Completion of Reading, Writing & Feedback Assignments, Required

All assignments must be completed satisfactorily to receive any passing grade for the course.


Supplemental Packets A & B (Speedway Copying/478-3334)
Cawley (ed.) Everyman and Medieval Miracle Plays (Everyman)
Beadle (ed.), Cambridge Companion to Medieval English Theatre
Mandel (ed.), Five Comedies of Medieval France [packet]
Boroff (trans.) Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (Norton)
Windeatt (ed.) The Book of Margery Kempe (Penguin)
Unsworth, Morality Play [a novel] (Norton)
John Russell, The Boke of Nurture [packet]
plus one or more of Shakespeare's 'Medieval' Plays


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