Drama, Play, and Game: English Festive Culture in the Medieval and Early Modern Period

Front Cover
University of Chicago Press, 2001 - 343 pages
How was it possible for drama, especially biblical representations, to appear in the Christian West given the church's condemnation of the theatrum of the ancient world?In a book with radical implications for the study of medieval literature, Lawrence Clopper resolves this perplexing question.

Drama, Play, and Game demonstrates that the theatrum repudiated by medieval clerics was not "theater" as we understand the term today. Clopper contends that critics have misrepresented Western stage history because they have assumed that theatrum designates a place where drama is performed. While theatrum was thought of as a site of spectacle during the Middle Ages, the term was more closely connected with immodest behavior and lurid forms of festive culture. Clerics were not opposed to liturgical representations in churches, but they strove ardently to suppress May games, ludi, festivals, and liturgical parodies. Medieval drama, then, stemmed from a more vernacular tradition than previously acknowledged-one developed by England's laity outside the boundaries of clerical rule.

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Contents

Introduction
1
1 The Theatrum and the Rhetoric of Abuse in the Middle Ages
25
2 Miracula Ludi inhonesti Somergames and the Tretise of Miraclis Pleyinge
63
The Ludi of Monasteries and Cathedrals Towns and Parishes
108
Drama and the City
138
5 Texts and Performances
169
6 The Matter of These Plays
204
7 Variety in the Dramas of East Anglia
235
8 The Persistence of Medieval Drama in the Tudor and Elizabethan Periods
268
appendix I References to Miracula Miracles and Steracles in Medieval and Early Modern England
295
The Play of Saints in Late Medieval and Tudor England
299
Works Cited
307
Index
331
Copyright

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About the author (2001)

Lawrence M. Clopper is a professor of English at Indiana University. He is the author of Songes of Rechelesnesse: Langland and the Franciscans and The Dramatic Records of Chester, 1399-1642.

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