EN460a - Medieval Drama
Here are some World Wide Web and Internet resources for the study of Medieval and Early Renaissance Drama.
Our knowledge and interpretation of medieval drama in England, especially of the mystery plays, has changed radically over the past 25 years, thanks largely to the work of the Records of Early English Drama (REED). Dr. Gloria Betcher of Iowa State University has provided an excellent comparison of what we thought we knew about medieval drama in 1951 and what we think we know now, for which click here. Most importantly, local civic and parish records show that 1) cycles of biblical dramas from Creation to Judgment were almost unique to York and Chester, whereas other towns had a variety of entertainments, including short, individual plays that were not part of a larger cycle--this is true of the so-called "Wakefield Cycle" or more properly "the Towneley Plays"; and 2) there is no genre called "the Corpus Christi Play" particularly connected to the Feast of Corpus Christi; any of these plays might just as well have been performed on a variety of holidays, mostly in the Spring and Summer, especially during Whitsuntide (the week of Pentecost Sunday). For the latest scholarship on these issues, see the works of, among others, Garrett P.J. Epp, Alexandra F. Johnston, and Barbara D. Palmer in the bibliographies which can be found in the menu on the right.