Medieval drama encompasses a wide range of texts, from extremely bawdy secular literature to serious devotional plays. Some texts explore the comedy of human sexual desire, others the grotesque possibilities of the sexualized body. As we read these plays, we will come better to appreciate how literature invents sexuality. Still other texts seek to teach Christian biblical history to the laity, beginning with Creation and ending with the Last Judgment. Although the Christian Bible obviously inspires such literature, the actors speak distinctly unbiblical words, at times uttering blasphemous scatological curses, at other times mocking ecclesiastical rituals. These plays will allow us to explore the connections between serious religious aspiration and carnival-esque laughter.
Course requirements include active participation in discussions, short reading response papers, peer critiques, two essays (5-10 pages), and at least one performance.
This course is designed primarily for English majors but is accessible to those from other majors.
This course involves a bit of lecture and a lot of discussion, sometimes accompanied by collaborative attempts to work out how a play could be performed.