Modern Language Association 2019 National Convention
3–6 January, 2019
Performance Matters: How might different modes (witnessing, acting, reading, prayer, meditation) intersect with the varied matter of medieval performance (text, spectacle, ritual, song, trial)? This session seeks papers that extend into the Middle English context the recent productive questioning, within medieval studies, of what exactly we mean by “performance” and “drama.” How can attending to the specificities of performance render Middle English a site for blurring or effacing longstanding divisions between historical/archival and performance-oriented research methods? Papers may work within the established canon of Middle English drama or consider how texts that were not obviously “plays” became the stuff of performance. How do particular urban or rural locations, secular or religious contexts, create novel performance conditions? How does performance negotiate xenophobia, tolerance, and the other more nuanced political attitudes that we find in plays conjuring Muslims, Jews, and pagan figures? What might we learn from the specific religious, class, and gender positions of such figures as represented in particular Middle English performances?
Ours will be a traditional-length (15-20 minute each) paper panel.