Rehabilitating Academic Drama

Authored by: Stephanie Allen , Elisabeth Dutton , James McBain

The Routledge Research Companion to Early Drama and performance

Print publication date:  December  2016
Online publication date:  December  2016

Print ISBN: 9781472421401
eBook ISBN: 9781315612898
Adobe ISBN: 9781317043669


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In one of the few available propaedeutic chapters dealing with academic drama, Robert S. Knapp outlines how modern scholarship has identified it predominantly through difference: “segregated by its dominant language (Latin) and by its ordinary venue (the college hall) from what is normally taught and studied as constituting the English dramatic tradition” (257). It is true, as far as we know, that the majority of drama at the two universities, Oxford and Cambridge, in the late medieval and early modern periods was in Latin: on the other hand, Inns of Court plays, usually included in the category “Academic Drama”, were exclusively vernacular. It is also true to say that the majority of academic performances would have been undertaken in college halls, albeit that ante-chapels, the lodgings of heads of houses, and quadrangles were important venues too. In any case, these locations clearly and inevitably impose different dramaturgical conditions to either professional theatres or street and civic spaces and these differences should be properly examined and kept in mind. However, they need not represent barriers to either comprehension or critical interest.

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