IMC 2006: Sessions

Session 310: New Perspectives on Late Medieval and Early Modern English Drama

Monday 10 July 2006, 16.30-18.00

Moderator/Chair:Jelle Koopmans, Department of French, Universiteit van Amsterdam
Paper 310-aThe Poetics of Gendered Space in the Digby Mary Magdalene Play
(Language: English)
Joanne Findon, Department of English Literature, Trent University, Ontario
Index terms: Gender Studies, Hagiography, Language and Literature - Middle English, Performance Arts - General
Paper 310-bSkelton's Magnyfycence: Theatrical and Poetical Diversity
(Language: English)
Peter Happé, Department of English, University of Southampton
Index terms: Language and Literature - Middle English, Performance Arts - Drama
Paper 310-c'Gentle Mercutio, Put Thy Rapier Up': Cultural Clashes in the Swordplay of Romeo and Juliet
(Language: English)
Dianne E. Berg, Independent Scholar, Massachusetts
Index terms: Daily Life, Performance Arts - Drama, Social History
Abstract

Abstract paper -a:To date, little attention has been paid to the Digby Mary Magdalene play’s use of space and boundaries in relation to the visual coding of gender norms. The play’s intriguing use of space constructs a complex spatial dialectic between ‘inside’, ‘outside’ and ‘in-between’. The concern with inner and outer space is bound up with, but not entirely dependent on, the play’s use of different playing places. In moving its female protagonist through a series of charged spaces, from domestic enclosure to life-changing liminality, to triumphant open space in a foreign country, the play challenges gender stereotypes and the relationship between centre and margin, enclosure and liberation.

Abstract paper -b: I propose to consider Skelton’s theatrical and poetic achievements in Magnyfycence. The recent examination of this play’s political contexts has emphasized Skelton’s stance in public affairs. I should now like to shift the emphasis towards his extraordinary poetic and theatrical versatility. He seems to have owed much to his poetic predecessors, especially in terms of prosodic versatility and the richness of medieval English lyric forms. His theatrical realisation is a remarkable combination of tragedy, morality, and of the conventions of folly, and a variety of stage techniques. The work of several dramatists following the printing of the play in 1530 shows an appreciation of his play.

Abstract paper -c: This paper explores the language and culture of late medieval and Renaissance swordplay as represented in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, with a specific focus on the role of civilian violence in the Elizabethan period as compared to the later Middle Ages. The popularity of fencing prize fights, often held in the same Bankside theatres that staged contemporary plays, reflected the spread of civilian swordplay throughout the 16th century. A far cry from the broadsword battles of the medieval warfare, this growing interest will be viewed within the context of the evolving weaponry which accompanied it, from Tybalt’s chic ‘Spanish blades’ to the humble swords and bucklers of the servant class.