Performing Medieval Drama in the 21st Century (A Panel Discussion)

deadline for submissions: 
September 6, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Kyle A. Thomas, Missouri State University
contact email: 


Session Title: Performing Medieval Drama in the 21st Century (A Panel Discussion) at the International Congress on Medieval Studies, Western Michigan University (2020)

Organizer: Kyle A. Thomas (Missouri State University)

Sponsered by the Medieval and Renaissance Drama Society (MRDS) 

In her seminal book, Ritual Imports: Performing Medieval Drama in America, Claire Sponslor examined the role of European medieval drama in history of North America, making the case that drama was more than the importation of plays. Rather, Sponsler examined the practices and traditions of performance that carved out a space in which the practices of the Old World came into contact and communication with those of the New. Following Sponslor’s lead and her broad definition of drama—which includes plays, religious practices and ceremonies, fairs, pageantry, rites and rituals—this panel discussion seeks out papers and presentations that explore performance(s) of medieval drama in the 21stcentury. In particular, this panel will aim to facilitate conversation around performances that take from medieval source material but invite performers and audiences into a point or space of contact with the medieval world through effective and affective twenty-first-century practices. The organizers are especially interested in the papers/presentations that might include photos or videos of performance.

Possible approaches/questions might include, but are not limited to:

  • current and affective methodologies for performing medieval drama that explore dramaturgy, acting/casting, design/tech, textual analysis, etc.;
  • utilization and navigation of twenty-first-century spaces;
  • the incorporation of technology, including social media mobile platforms and apps, etc.;
  • ways in which potentially problematic characters, themes, ideas (e.g. anti-Semitism, gender roles) are handled in performance;
  • how performance facilitates manifests the role of the medieval document/text and/or the work of research and the researcher for current audiences.

Please send abstracts and PIF forms to (if sent before August 10th, please also cc: by September 6th, 2019. Also, please mention in your abstract if you intend to include pictures or video of performance in your presentation. Depending on the number or submissions and the content of the proposals, the organizers will make and decision regarding the specific format of the discussion (i.e. length of papers/presentations and the possibility of a panel Q&A or respondant).