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Teaching with the Records of Early English Drama

Teaching with the Records of Early English Drama

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    Teaching with the Records of Early English Drama
    Book Description:

    Since the appearance of the first volume in 1979, theRecords of Early English Drama(REED) series has made available an accurate and useable transcription of all surviving documentary evidence of dramatic, ceremonial, and minstrel activity in Great Britain up to the closing of the theatres in 1642. Although they are immensely valuable to scholars, the REED volumes sometimes prove difficult for students to use without considerable assistance. With this book, Elza Tiner aims to make the records accessible for classroom use. The contributors to the volume describe the various ways in which students can learn from working with these documents. Divided into five sections, the volume illustrates how specific disciplines can use the Records to provide resources for students including ways to teach the historical documents of early English drama, training students in acting and producing, historical contexts for the interpretation of literature, as well as the study of local history, women?s studies, and historical linguistics. As a practical and much needed companion to the REED volumes,Teaching with the Records of Early English Dramawill prove invaluable to both students and teachers of Medieval English Drama.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8040-1
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-xi)
  5. [Map]
    (pp. xii-xii)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. xiii-xxviii)

    ‘But they haven’t read!’ Thus my colleagues complain about student reluctance or inability to read assigned texts. Several factors undoubtedly contribute to this inertia: an age of digital media, with less reliance on printed text than in previous eras; fast-response systems, such as internet search engines, where one can locate information quickly (often without screening for reliability); and teaching practices based on information transfer, Paulo Freire's ‘banking concept’ of education (348—59). Many students assume that the teacher has all the information and delivers it, so they can get it and give it back on a test or paper. When...


    • 1 The Audience of Early Drama: REED and the Techniques of Historical Fiction
      (pp. 3-13)

      There are not many fields in the humanities where the scholarly understanding of the material has shifted in the last thirty years as profoundly as it has in early drama. New research in early theatre has been moving forward on three interrelated paths - the editing of die surviving external evidence through REED; the reediting of the texts of much of the extant corpus of dramatic material (including the radically new approach to editing Shakespeare taken by the new Oxford edition that treats each printed version of a play as a separate witness to performance); and the many research productions...

    • 2 Using REED in Teaching the Whitsun Plays of Tudor Chester
      (pp. 14-24)

      In this essay I describe a master plan for workshops to involve students in archival research related to their study of early drama. I describe the workshops within the context for which they were originally designed. Though devised initially for a specific package of modules, they have subsequently proved adaptable to different structures and contexts.

      I offer two special options on early drama at the University of Liverpool in which small numbers of students may enrol from year to year, and I am also a member of the teaching team delivering a broader ‘medieval literature’ module which students - typically,...


    • 3 ‘It’s as if I’m really doing research!’
      (pp. 27-47)

      During my first two years of university, I pursued an honours degree in chemistry. Across the hall from the undergraduate lab where I spent many afternoons completing laboratory exercises with my peers, one of my professors had his research lab. He and his research colleagues would scuttle in and out through the frosted glass door to the lab while I tried to position myself so that I could get a peek at what went on inside. To this day I have no idea what his area of research was, but fortunately my honours program also enabled me to study with...

    • 4 Teaching without Texts: Early English Drama for Performance Studies Students
      (pp. 48-69)

      In 1982, Alexandra Johnston, Director of the REED project and a tireless promoter of the academic utility of the material in the REED volumes, posed the question ‘What if no texts survived?’ at a symposium at Western Michigan University. The essay published in 1989 under the same title argued that those dramatic texts that have by chance survived represent only a small part of the history of medieval and early modern drama and that we can conjure up much more- and a much greater variety of dramatic activity — by studying the records made available through the ongoing REED series. The...

    • 5 Using REED Chester for Classroom and Performance
      (pp. 70-84)

      With the intention of demonstrating both the variety and vitality in medieval and early Renaissance drama, I determined to use REED volumes as much as possible in my graduate course in medieval drama at the University of Hawai'i. The class texts ordered for the course, English 675, were David Bevington's venerableMedieval Drama,the collection of essays edited by Richard Beadle inThe Cambridge Companion to Medieval English Theatre,and David Mills's modernizedspelling edition,The Chester Mystery Cycle.The course was designed to follow the sequence of readings in Bevington's anthology: liturgical drama, English cycle plays, noncycle plays, and Tudor...


    • 6 Using Historical Documents in the Literature Classroom: Elizabethan and Jacobean Church Court Cases
      (pp. 87-96)

      That primary historical documents can be useful in history classes seems obvious, at the college level certainly, though they have also lately been used at the secondary level and even in primary classes.¹ They allow students to examine for themselves, and to judge as best they can, the sources used by scholars in creating history. That primary historical documents might also be relevant to literature classes is not inherently obvious. However, I do find them to be useful in drama courses, where I have been assigning entries from the Elizabethan and Jacobean church courts of Cambridgeshire in order to illustrate...

    • 7 Teaching Poems from Robert Herrick’s Hesperides with the Aid of REED Documents
      (pp. 97-114)

      Critical interest in Robert Herrick's poetry has experienced something of a rebirth in the last fifty years. More recent criticism, produced since the three-hundredth anniversary of Herrick’s death in 1674, portrays Herrick less often as merely a quaint observer of Devon country life, and instead, situates him as a serious, political commentator on mid-seventeenth-century events.¹ Despite these advances in scholarly appreciation, however, those who teach Herrick in American public universities still cannot count on students being able to engage effectively with the poems of Hesperides. Frustration with students' critical shortcomings, coupled with the need to provide a narrative structure within...


    • 8 The Use of REED Documents in Teaching Early Modern English History
      (pp. 117-141)

      In the summer 1999 issue of Albion Robert Tittler made an eloquent plea to North American historians of sixteenth and seventeenth century England. Citing changes in our 'fundamental perspectives’ in the recent past, Tittler charges those who teach the history of early modern England with the necessity of 'fiddling with the canon or treating canonical issues in innovative ways’ so that the ‘Tudor and Stuart’ course may ‘recapture its lustre and reflect the breadth and excitement of current scholarship’ (200, 202—3). Among the perspectives he suggests we should incorporate in the syllabus are 'the anthropology of popular religion,’ urban...

    • 9 ‘The husbandry and manage of my house’: Teaching Women’s Studies from the Records of Early English Drama Collections
      (pp. 142-153)

      When the REED project was founded in 1975, its explicit goal was to identify, transcribe, and publish records of public entertainment, principally drama but also secular music and dance, in the British Isles from the beginnings to the Civil War in 1642.¹ Towards that end, collection editors were instructed to search all pre-1642 public, ecclesiastical, and household records within a specified geographic area. During the early years with REED focus on York and Chester, the homes of the great Corpus Christi cycles for which drama texts survive, civic, guild, and ecclesiastical records were predominant. As field editors began to explore...

    • 10 Palaeography in the Undergraduate Drama Class: Teaching the Secret Life of Documents
      (pp. 154-166)

      One of the best experiences of my undergraduate academic life occurred in a lower division course on American poetry, taught by a brilliant young nun. As the class grappled with difficult features of symbolic structure in the poems, she commented in passing that full understanding would really require delving into the complex topic of mythic criticism and die making of personal myth in modern poetry, which would come in more advanced courses or graduate school. Faced with a chorus of pleas (the word ‘whining’ comes to mind), she reluctantly relented and gave us an introduction to that ‘higher’ topic, one...


    • 11 REED and Language Teaching
      (pp. 169-175)

      So far in its history, the REED series has, judging from reviews and published references, primarily attracted the attention of historians of various kinds, but theatre historians, in particular. This is only to be expected since 'that elusive art form, the play’ is at the centre of REED’s enterprise. Music historians, social historians, and local historians, too, have discovered the value of the documents presented in REED collections for their research and writing. However, the texts collected in REED editions have tremendous potential for the historical study and teaching of language as well. Not only are many of these texts...

    • 12 Going to HEL: REED and Diachronic Linguistics
      (pp. 176-194)

      At first glance, one might ask how REED relates to the history of the English language (HEL), or what HEL has to do with the study of drama. While the primary purpose of REED is to illustrate the history of performance and production in pre-1642 England, the collections also provide a rich supply of texts that illustrate the varieties and development of the English language in the late medieval and early modern English periods. As Abigail Young shows in the preceding essay, the volumes include civic records in Latin, French, and Anglo-Norman, as well as English, which provide evidence of...


    • 13 Introducing Undergraduates to Documents in REED Collections
      (pp. 197-210)

      Faculty using selections from REED collections in courses in literature or history may want their students to understand the context for information that appears in the documents from which REED has printed excerpts and the purposes for which the documents were written. The following are intended as generic introductions to the classes of documents most frequently represented in REED collections. Professors using REED in their classes are welcome to adapt or quote from any of the descriptions of records as they explain REED documents to their students. Not included below are introductions to classes of records that appear infrequently in...

  13. REED Collections
    (pp. 211-212)
  14. Works Cited
    (pp. 213-222)
  15. List of Contributors
    (pp. 223-226)
  16. Index
    (pp. 227-238)