Session 411, 1:30pm, Saturday 13th May, Schneider 1125

Sponsor: Dept. of English Studies, Durham Univ.

Organizer: Mark C. Chambers, Durham Univ.

Presider: Alexandra Johnston, Records of Early English Drama

Records of Early English Drama North-East, a five-year project based at Durham University, is researching and collecting all the surviving records of performance from Durham, Northumberland and the three historic Ridings of Yorkshire. The results, to be published in the ongoing Records of Early English Drama series, will provide extensive and robustly-presented detail of one of the last remaining uncharted areas in the field of English performance history up to the Seventeenth Century.

This session will include papers that showcase some of the recently discovered evidence for early drama from the North-East of England, in order to help refine our understanding of the geographical and social contexts in which drama, music and mimetic entertainment was produced across the region. It will include papers by three of the current REED North-East volume editors and will highlight, in particular, aspects of the growing evidence for folk performance in the region. These will feature discussion and analysis of the use of humour in the York civic biblical plays from Yorkshire; Durham Priory and Bishops’ patronage of performance in the city and county palatinate before the Reformation, including a recurring predilection for performance by the marginalized or “other” in late-medieval society; the distinct nature of the Rushbearing ceremonies in the Yorkshire West Riding; and the peculiar political aesthetic identities associated with performance in the important border shire of Northumberland.

Presided by the Records of Early English Drama founder Alexandra Johnston, the session will feature aspects of the latest archival-based research into medieval and Early Modern performance history from the north of England.



Jamie Beckett, Durham University: “Lo, he merys; Lo, he laghys”: Humor and the Shepherds in the York and Towneley Plays

Mark C. Chambers, Durham University: Men of the Cloth and Men in Drag: Ecclesiastical Patronage of the “Other” in Late Medieval Durham

Ted McGee, University of Waterloo: The Distinctiveness of Yorkshire West Riding Rushbearings

Suzanne Westfall, Lafayette College: “I will speak as liberal as the North”: Performances in Northumberland


Plays, Processions, and Parchment: Discovering Festive Traditions in the North East of England

9:00pm, Thursday 11th May, Valley III

Exhibition and drinks reception sponsored by Durham’s Institute for Medieval & Early Modern Studies and co-hosted with the Pontifical Institute.

Details of the original exhibition, held at Durham Cathedral last Spring can be found here:


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