Medieval Drama–Making the Word Flesh
EN 318

Block 6, Spring 2002


Prof. Regula Meyer Evitt 
Armstrong 346
Phone: 389-6706 [office]; 471-3469 [home] 
TTH, 1:30-2:30 p.m.,
E-mail: and by appointment

Course Goals

Drama in all its variety offers a colorful portrait of the Middle Ages. Recently, critics using a spectrum of post-structural approaches (reader response, feminist, Lacanian, semiotic, material culture, Bakhtinian) have opened up new horizons of interpretation for the drama which underscore its inherent richness and complexity. In fact, there are many touchpoints between medieval intellectual currents and recent theory as we will discover when we read from the various genres of continental and English drama this block: liturgical drama, Corpus Christi cycle plays, morality, conversion, and saints’ plays. Our primary focus in this course will be the drama with a secondary emphasis on practical applications of contemporary theory to the plays we will read. I hope that you will come away from this course first and foremost with a better sense of the medieval drama and its cultural contexts, and that in the process you will begin to discover the affinities between medieval and modern understandings of representation, of "making the word flesh."

Course Assignments (see the Schedule of Meetings and Assignments below for due dates)

*Response Paper/Lead Class DiscussionYou’ll lead class discussion, grounding the discussion in one of the critical readings assigned for our class meetings during the block. To focus your discussion, you’ll provide your peers with a one-page, single-spaced critical synopsis of the article on the day before you lead discussion.
*Making a Scene–During Week 2, while we’re reading Corpus Christi Cycle Dramas, you’ll work with two to three other students to present a scene from one of the cycle plays. You’ll use the scene you stage to reflect on one or more of the contextual readings from that week
*Web Bibliography project–During Week 3, your research group will prepare to lead discussion for one of the Morality, Conversion, or Saints plays we’ll discuss that week. You’ll create a brief annotated bibliography, scan and/or link the articles you’ve chosen to our course web site, and use your research to lead class discussion on the play your group focuses on
*Critical Paper–You’ll write one critical paper, 7-8 pages. You’ll notice on the Schedule of Meetings and Assignments below that there is no class on the day this assignment is due. This should give you some focused time to write or even to revise an early draft of your paper. Let me know if you’d like to set up a conference time with me to discuss a draft of your paper.

Course Policies

*Grade distribution–Response Paper/Lead Class Discussion [20%]; Making a Scene [20%]; Bibliography/Web-link project [20%]; Critical Paper [40%]
*Attendance–If you miss more than two class meetings, your course grade will drop one letter grade for each subsequent absence. The exceptions to this policy include, of course, serious illness or real emergencies. Please come talk with me if you run into difficulties.
*Late assignments–Late assignments lose one letter grade for each day that they are late (e.g., an A- becomes a B-, a B becomes a C, etc.). During the block you can turn in one assignment late without penalty (this includes all assignments equally). However, you need to arrange for this "freebie late" at least one day in advance. Assignments turned in more than one week late receive a NC. As above, the exceptions to this policy include serious illness or real emergencies. We’ll work out a schedule for completing your course work if necessary.
*PlagiarismUsing sources beyond your primary text[s] without documenting them is intellectual theft. Borrowing work from other students violates Colorado College’s Academic Honor System as well. Plagiarized work receives a grade of "F" and is subject to review by the college honor committee. Please make sure you understand Colorado College’s Academic Honor System; respect the academic integrity it calls for and the community of trust it aims to create.
*Credit/no credit–Let the registrar know immediately if you plan to take the course for credit rather than a grade.

Course Texts

*Medieval Drama ed. David Bevington (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1975)
*Select contextual readings, on reserve at Tutt Library or links to our course website

Schedule of Meetings and Assignments (subject to change if needed)

Week 1–Early and Liturgical Drama

Introduction – Medieval Drama: its changing contexts (9:00-10:00 a.m.)
Reading Break (10:00-11:00 a.m.):
Wolfgang Iser, "The Reading Process: A Phenomenological Approach," Modern Criticism and Theory: A Reader, ed. David Lodge (New York: Longman, 1988) 211-28
Reading Medieval Drama – An Augustinian-Iserian prolegomena (11:00 a.m. -12:00 noon)

Primary reading:
Hrotsvit of Gandersheim, The Conversion of the Harlot Thais; Abraham
*The Service [for Representing] the Pilgrim (Beauvais) [Bevington, pp. 45-49]
*The Slaughter of the Innocents (Fleury) [Bevington, pp. 67-72]
*The Bible: Luke 24: 17-43, Matthew 2: 13-23
Contextual readings:
R. Howard Bloch, "‘Devil's Gateway’ and ‘Bride of Christ,’" Medieval Misogyny and the Invention of Western Romantic Love (U of Chicago P, 1991) 65-91
*Elizabeth Ann Witt. "Canonizing the Canoness: Anthologizing Hrotsvit," College Literature 28 (2001): 85-91 b
*Erich Auerbach, "Figura," Scenes from the Drama of European Literature, Theory and History of Literature, Vol. 9 (Minneapolis: U of MN P, 1984) 11-76

Primary reading:
The Visit to the Sepulchre (Aquileia?), The Visit to the Sepulchre (St. Lambrecht), [The Service] for Representing the Scene at the Lord's Sepulchre (Fleury) [Bevington, pp. 21-44]
*The Service for Representing Herod (Fleury) [Bevington, pp. 51-66]
*The Bible: Luke 24, Matthew 28, Mark 16, John 20
Contextual readings:
Cynthia Bourgeault, "The Aesthetic Dimension in the Liturgy: A Theological Perspective for Literary Historians," U of Toronto Quarterly 52 (1982/ 83): 9-19
*C. Clifford Flanigan, "The Fleury Playbook, the Traditions of Medieval Latin Drama, and Modern Scholarship," The Fleury Playbook: Essays and Studies, ed. Thomas P. Campbell and Clifford Davidson, Early Drama, Art, and Music Monograph Series, 7 (Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications, 1985) 1-25

Primary reading:
Jeu d'Adam or The Service for Representing Adam / Ordo repraesentacionis Adae [Bevington, pp. 78-121]
*The Bible: Genesis 1-5
Contextual readings:
Mieke Bal, "Sexuality, Sin and Sorrow: The Emergence of the Female Character (A Reading of Genesis 1-3)," Poetics Today 6 (1985): 21-42
*Alexandre Leupin, Barbarolexis: Medieval Writing and Sexuality, trans. Kate M. Cooper (Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1989) 1-16

Primary reading:
The Christmas Play / Ludus de Nativitate (Benediktbeuern) [Bevington, pp. 178-201]
*The Bible: Isaiah 7, Matthew 2, Luke 1
Contextual reading:
Augustine of Hippo, "In Answer to the Jews (Adversus Judaeos)," Saint Augustine: Treatises on Marriage and Other Subjects, ed. Roy J. Deferrari, trans. Charles T. Wilcox et al. (New York: Fathers of the Church, Inc., 1955) 391-414

Week 2–Corpus Christi Cycle Drama

Primary reading:
The Corpus Christi Cycle [Bevington, pp. 242-354]--Focus on: The Creation and the Fall of the Angels (Wakefield) [Bevington, pp. 258-66]; The Killing of Abel (Wakefield) [Bevington, pp. 274-89]; Noah (Wakefield) [Bevington, pp.290-307]
Contextual readings:
Maris G. Fiondella, "Augustine's Concept of the ‘Letter’ and the Viewer as Subject in Selected Plays from the Towneley Cycle," Early Drama to 1600, ed. Albert H. Tricomi (Binghamton: Center for Medieval and Early Renaissance Studies, 1987) 95-106
*Sylvia Tomasch, "Breaking the Frame: Medieval Art and Drama," Early Drama to 1600, ed. Albert H. Tricomi (Binghamton: Center for Medieval and Early Renaissance Studies, 1987) 81-93.

Primary reading:
The Corpus Christi Cycle [Bevington, pp. 355-459]
--Focus on: The Annunciation (Wakefield) [Bevington, pp. 355-67]; The Salutation of Elizabeth (Wakefield) [Bevington, pp. 368-71]; The Second Shepherds' Play (Wakefield)[Bevington, pp. 383-409]
Contextual readings:
*Theresa Coletti, "Purity and Danger: The Paradox of Mary’s Body and the En-gendering of the Infancy Narratives in the English Mystery Cycles," Feminist Approaches to the Body in Literature, ed. Linda Lomperis and Sarah Stanbury (Philadelphia: U of PA, 1993) 65-95
*Leah Sinanoglou, "The Christ Child as Sacrifice: A Medieval Tradition and the Corpus Christi Plays," Speculum 48 (1973): 491-509

Primary reading:
The Corpus Christi Cycle [Bevington, pp. 460-593]
--Focus on: The Temptation in the Wilderness and the Woman Taken in Adultery (Chester) [xerox; not in Bevington]; The Woman Taken in Adultery (N-Town) [Bevington, pp. 460-69]
Contextual readings:
Judith Ferster, "Writing on the Ground: Interpretation in Chester Play XII," Sign, Sentence, Discourse: Language in Medieval Thought and Literature, ed. Julian N. Wasserman and Lois Roney (Syracuse: Syracuse UP, 1989) 179-93
*Christine Brooke-Rose, "Woman as Semiotic Object," Poetics Today 6 (1985): 9-20

Primary reading:
The Corpus Christi Cycle [Bevington, pp. 594-658]
--Focus on: The Buffeting (Wakefield) [Bevington, pp. 536-52]; The Crucifixion of Christ (York) [Bevington, pp. 569-79]; The Last Judgement (Wakefield) [Bevington, pp. 637-58)
Contextual readings:
Peter W. Travis, "The Social Body of the Dramatic Christ in Medieval England," Early Drama to 1600, ed. Albert H. Tricomi (Binghamton: Center for Medieval and Early Renaissance Studies, 1987) 17-36
*Caroline Walker Bynum, "The Body of Christ in the Later Middle Ages: A Reply to Leo Steinberg," Renaissance Quarterly 39 (1986): 399-439
*Elaine Scarry, "The Structure of Torture: The Conversion of Real Pain into the Fiction of Power," The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking of the World (Oxford: Oxford UP, 1985) 27-59


Week 3–Morality, Conversion, & Saints’ Plays

**Research Presentation Preparation Day**

[Bevington, pp. 939-64]

[Bevington, pp. 901-38]b

The Croxton Play of the Sacrament
[Bevington, pp. 754-88]

The Digby Mary Magdalene
[Bevington, pp. 687-753]

Week 4–Morality, Conversion, & Saints’ Plays (cont.)

Workshopping final papers

**Writing Day–Final Paper**

(due in my office at noon)



Have a good block break!