Drama and Pedagogy

Swiss Association of Medieval and Early Modern English Studies 2014 Conference

 12-13 September, 2014, University of Fribourg, Switzerland

Convenors: Elisabeth Dutton and Indira Ghose, University of Fribourg



Confirmed keynote speakers: Prof. Lynn Enterline (Vanderbilt), Prof. John McGavin (Southampton), Prof. Alan H. Nelson (UC Berkeley), Prof. Michelle O’Callaghan (Reading). Perry Mills (Director of Edward’s Boys) will be discussing productions of plays written for early modern boys’ companies.

The conference will include a reception at the elegant, historic Grande Salle, with accompanying performance of a sixteenth century university play, William Gager’s Dido, in a new translation from the Latin by Elizabeth Sandis, and directed by Elisabeth Dutton.

Call for Papers

In medieval England, when literacy was low and the liturgy in Latin, what did drama teach, and how?  What were the implications for Middle English drama of its vernacularity, and how did it engage Latinity?  The mystery plays teach scriptural material in the vernacular; the morality plays present subtle theological and philosophical teaching through allegory. In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries drama is a way of disseminating theological and philosophical ideas: in the sixteenth century, with the rise of humanism, drama is one way the academic community debates those ideas. In early modern England, as the theatre came to rival the pulpit as a mass medium, leading many to attack the stage and many others to defend it, did drama teach or seduce, instruct or distract? As historical circumstances change, how does drama balance the requirements of doctrine and delight – and does it manifest any sense of contradiction between the two?

As well as pedagogy of drama, conference papers might consider pedagogy in drama – scenes in which instruction is portrayed, whether seriously or satirically.  How do the Cycle plays engage with Christ as a teacher, or the Morality plays portray the pedagogical methods of Virtue and Vice figures? Humanist influence on the Tudor interlude ensures an interest in education, and examples of dramatized instruction abound in the plays of the early modern professional stage. Hamlet clearly thinks drama itself can teach and reveal – is his view typical, and is it right? Academic drama is a particularly pregnant locus for the exploration of drama and pedagogy: universities and the Inns of Court trained some of the leading playwrights of the early theatre, and, because productions were privately funded by colleges and performed in privately owned halls, the commercial constraints of the professional playhouses did not apply to university drama. In addition to exploring the role of academic drama in socio-political history and theatre history, the conference will examine the reasons for the strong connections between drama and education.  Why was drama given a central role in pedagogical practice?

Papers are invited which explore, in any way

  • relationships between drama and pedagogy in the medieval and early modern periods
  • the use of drama in varied instructional settings
  • portrayals of pedagogy in drama
  • the extent to which study of early theatre and study of historical educational practice may be mutually illuminating

Proposals for panels are welcome, too. A selection of papers will be published in a peer-reviewed volume to be edited by Elisabeth Dutton and James McBain.

For further information on the Swiss Association of Medieval and Early Modern English Studies, please visit http://www.unil.ch/samemes

Please send a 400 word abstract and a short biographical note to samemes2014@zoho.com by December 6th 2013.