CFP: Back to the Medieval Future (10/20/05; ATHE, 8/3/06-8/6/06)

full name / name of organization: 
jill stevenson
contact email: 

Back to the Medieval Future, or, Medieval Performance as the Vision of
The Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE) 2006 Conference
Chicago, August 3-6, 2006

As ATHE considers its past, present, and future, it is a particularly
appropriate time to explore recent trends in scholarship that have revealed
the applicability of the past to our present inquiries into the future. Not
only has the Middle Ages sparked intense scholarly activity, but the
performances that comprise our popular culture are suddenly full of
"medievalisms." Movies such as Lord of the Rings, Kingdom of Heaven, The Da
Vinci Code, and plays such as The Mysteries and SITI Company's Death and the
Ploughman not only represent a growing interest in the Middle Ages, but
specifically in performing the Middle Ages as a way to engage contemporary
issues. As Stephen G. Nichols notes in a recent article in PMLA, "While the
image of the Middle Ages evoked in popular culture varies from credible to
wildly fanciful, the range, success, and in some instances controversy of
such works attest to their timeliness and to the general public's prodigious
appetite for the material." He posits that recent scholars of medieval
culture have revealed "the historical context of the medieval phenomena they
address as at once different from our own period and, because of that
difference, the better able to engage with it." The Middle Ages has emerged
as a particularly constructive mode of inquiry.

This panel seeks work that considers how medieval performance can inform
20th- and 21st-century theatre studies. The goal is not simply to show
similarities between the Middle Ages and contemporary cultures, but to
demonstrate how medieval concerns, questions, and anxieties can help us to
explore our own situation. Can investigating the performance of violence in
the medieval crusades help us interpret and respond to 21st-century
religious violence? By understanding how large-scale theatre events such at
the York cycle or the Gréban Passion were employed to imagine and define
communities, can we discover new ways to shape our own communities using
theatre? Has our image and media saturated 21st century returned us to the
visual culture of the Middle Ages? Can the performative nature of religion
as expressed in, for example, sermons, saints' lives, visual artifacts,
etc., shed light on the current distribution and control of religious
ideology today? Papers that engage understudied geographic regions or
periods are encouraged.

Please send your one page abstract to Jill Stevenson at Include your name, a short bio including
affiliation, the title of your paper, mailing address, phone number, and
email address with your submission. If applicable, you must also specify
what AV equipment you will require. The deadline for abstracts is October
20th. You can find out more about ATHE at

Jill Stevenson

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Received on Fri Sep 16 2005 - 11:12:15 EDT