Department of English

University of Toronto


ENG330H1F  L0101   M11-1, W11
Early Drama
Instructor: Prof. M. Sergi
Office Location: Jackman Humanities Building, Room 812

Brief Description of Course: In our course, we will search for the earliest examples of dramatic texts in the English language. In searching, we will have to expand our understanding of what “dramatic” means, then and now, in order to determine what early texts count as examples. In searching for drama—that most raw and public art form—we will necessarily explore the cultures, languages, archives, and histories of England in its first thousand years (c.449-1485). In searching, we will primarily survey the earliest known examples of texts from England that call for physicalized action in performance, or for real-time enactment of narrative, or for characterization, or for more than one named speaker in dialogue, or for public showings in distinct playing spaces, and so forth. None of these criteria will sufficiently define the borders of the genre we know as “drama,” then or now; in our hopeless search for origins, however, we will dig through the very idea of drama at its most fundamental levels and develop a broader and deeper understanding of what dramatic texts can do. IMPORTANT: The first four weeks of our course will involve thorough and effective training in how to read and comprehend Middle English (as it was recorded from the years 1066 to 1485). Most of our course readings, after that training, will be in untranslated Middle English. ALSO IMPORTANT: There is a significant discussion and attendance portion of this course mark. Be prepared to engage actively during every class session.

Required Reading: Mummings and Entertainments (Lydgate, ed. Sponsler); and a course reader [including, but not limited to: Fulgens and Lucres; the Cornish Ordinalia (excerpts, in translation); the Welsh Nativity (in translation); the Chester cycle (excerpts); the York cycle (excerpts); Mankind, Babio (in translation); The Winchester Dialogues; The Pride of Life; The Croxton Play of the Sacrament; The Owl and the Nightingale; Dame Sirith; various short Robin Hood plays; and excerpts from Beowulf and various short works of Anglo-Saxon poetry (in translation).]

First Three Authors/Texts: Mumming at Entertainments (Lydgate); Fulgens and Lucres (Medwall); Mankind (Anon).

Method of Evaluation: Translation/edition assignment (17.5%); staging/analysis essay (22.5%); in-class comprehension questions (20%); Middle English comprehension quiz (15%); engagement and participation in class discussions (15%); actual attendance 10%).

Link to ARTSCI Calendar Course Descriptions.

Link to ARTSCI 2016-17 Timetable with Room Allocations.

Return to 300 Level Courses.

Return to 2016-17 Fall-Winter Courses.

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