Monday, July 31, 2017

CFP:  Women on the Global Medieval Stage: Performers, Producers, and 
Artists (A Roundtable)

International Congress, Kalamazoo
May 10-13, 2018

In the preface to The Theatre of Medieval Europe (1991), editor Eckehard 
Simon remarks that, “by the thirteenth century, to be sure, liturgical 
plays were sung by nuns in some convents and fifteenth-century civic 
records occasionally mention women in minor parts. But from the 
Winchester Easter play of c. 975 to Shakespeare and beyond, theatre was 
the province of men.” (xiii)

Despite ever-increasing evidence to the contrary, this paradigm of the 
“all-male” pre-modern stage lingers, coloring our reading of women’s 
public performances more broadly.  A flood of revisionist scholarship – 
by Pamela Brown, Melinda Gough, Natasha Korda, Peter Parolin, Clare 
McManus, Lucy Munro, and Virginia Scott, for example – has wiped out 
this stereotype for the early modern era.  Yet despite the work of 
individuals such as James Stokes, a similar movement has yet to coalesce 
among medieval scholars.

This session thus seeks to reflect on the medieval community’s response 
to the problem of women and performance.  From nuns to noblewomen to 
ordinary laywomen, instances of women’s participation in drama and other 
kinds of performance are dismissed as anomalies or even impossibilities. 
  How many examples must be documented before the “exceptions” are seen 
as part of larger cultural trends?  How might consideration of varied 
kinds of performance practices help us to integrate female performers, 
producers, and artists into the “master” narrative?  Reassessing the 
influence of these women is far more than a negligible historical 
corrective; reclaiming their performances is a necessity if we are to 
understand the social and cultural importance of the contributions of 
women to medieval life.

This session will be a roundtable in which speakers briefly share their 
own work before taking part in a general discussion.  In addition to 
reflections on the field, we invite investigations of women as “makers” 
of performance:  subjects might include Hrotsvit, Hildegard, troubadour 
poets, liturgical celebrations, female actors, lay patrons, and drama of 
all sorts.  Scholarship from varied disciplines, methodologies, time 
periods, and geographical regions is especially welcome, as we hope to 
engender a broad and lively exchange of ideas.

Please submit a one-page abstract *and* a completed Participant 
Susannah Crowder and Jesse Njus ( and no later than September 15, 2017.  Feel free to 
contact Susannah and Jesse with questions about the session; for general 
information about the 2018 Medieval Congress, visit: 

No comments: