Università degli Studi di Urbino Carlo Bo / Portale Web di Ateneo


Theatre plays in the English, German and North European Middle Ages
Theatre plays in the English, German and North European Middle Ages

2019/2020 8
Docente Email Ricevimento studentesse e studenti
Alessandra Molinari On request (by previous appointment. Email to: alessandra.molinari@uniurb.it)
Didattica in lingue straniere
Insegnamento interamente in lingua straniera Inglese Tedesco
La didattica è svolta interamente in lingua straniera e l'esame può essere sostenuto in lingua straniera.

Assegnato al Corso di Studio

Lingue Straniere e Studi Interculturali (LM-37)
Giorno Orario Aula
Giorno Orario Aula

Obiettivi Formativi

In this course, we will focus on the manuscript sources of medieval theatre. Starting from the analysis of some selected manuscripts witnessing theatre texts from the English, German and North European Middle Ages, we will gradually reconstruct the original cultural context within which each of those manuscripts was produced and the so-called intended audience (i.e. readers, manuscript users) for whom that manuscript was supposedly compiled. We will then turn to the text itself and to its text-critical tradition and content features. Both discourses will lead us to inferences about theatre as a cultural phenomenon with a role and a collocation in the Middle Ages that was both similar to, and different from, the role of theatre in present-day society and culture. 

As a theoretical philological approach, we will propose an updated and revisited version of the so-called Einfühlung ('Empathy'), i.e. that gnoseological theory of 'feeling into' Nature, art and any human cultural output, that was a main approach to ancient and medieval texts in the 19th century. To formulate it in present-day epistemological terms, Einfühlung enables to catch the perspective and point of view expressed in a text by pursuing two ways: the "cognitive" way of reconstructing the cultural code on the basis of which a text was produced, and the "emotional" way of trying to enter the inner world of those who produced and first read or listened to that text.  The ultimate aim of such an endeavor is to get a glimpse of the specificity of medieval creativity.

As part of the program, in the second part of the course, two labs will be proposed. Attending students must tale part in at least one of them:

Textus invisibilis: the Manuscripts and Digital Humanities lab (in English and Italian). In this lab, you will deepen your knowledge on palaeography, codicology, fragmentology, the history of handwritten culture and its relationship to the present-day digital culture. You will mainly work in the Urbino State Archive on real parchment manuscripts with texts in different languages and from different centuries, and on databases produced for the humanities. You will become more aware of the implications of medial revolutions on our daily life as well as the role of mediality for our perception of ourselves and of the world. (Didactic approach: student-centered learning and User Experience as adapted to the aims of higher education). 

Program of the Textus invisibilis lab:

- The world of writing in the Middle Ages: writers, scribes, writing centers; who could read and write? The writing surfaces: wood, wax, stone, papyrus, parchment. Writing on parchment: the construction of a codex; the material and layout features of a codex; text embedment into a codex page; interpunction; medieval Latin scripts. An excursus: non-codex based document formats; non-Latin scripts.

- The world of archives: what is an archive and what is it for? Principles of information management and storage; the State Archive in Urbino; the parchment fonds in the State Archives in Urbino.

- Fragments and fragmentology: what is a fragment? Fragment types and functions; an attempt at a unifying definition; on the status of fragmentology.

- Working with fragments and with Textus invisibilis. What can we learn from fragments? What can they "tell us"? How can we approach them? Analysis of the databases dealing with fragments as their primary or secondary storage items; analysis of the present-day status of the Textus invisibilis project; participating in the project, in the design and construction of the Textus invisibilis database, and in the design and construction of the Textus invisibilis announcement webpage.

- Edda and Theatre: This lab is focused on reception issues. We will be comparing one original medieval source of a poetry or theatre text (for instance, the Old Norse "Edda" or the Middle Dutch "Lanseloet van Denemerken"), and either analyze one present-day extant theatre rendering of them, or translate, re-write and actualize it ourselves in a way that represents our present-day perspective on them.

Materiale Didattico

Il materiale didattico predisposto dalla/dal docente in aggiunta ai testi consigliati (come ad esempio diapositive, dispense, esercizi, bibliografia) e le comunicazioni della/del docente specifiche per l'insegnamento sono reperibili all'interno della piattaforma Moodle › blended.uniurb.it

Modalità Didattiche, Obblighi, Testi di Studio e Modalità di Accertamento

Testi di studio

The basic course books and materials to be prepared for the exam are the following ones (FURTHER INDICATION WILL BE UPLOADED ON MOODLE): 

1) Brockett, Oscar, and Franklin, Hildy, History of the Theatre: Pearson New International Edition, Tenth Edition. Harlow: Pearson Education Limited, 2014. Do prepare chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.

2) Nine Medieval Latin Plays (1994), translated and edited by Peter Dronke. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.e Medieval Latin Plays (1994), translated and edited by Peter Dronke. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

3 ) Have a close look at the following manuscript:

Codex Buranus  BSB Clm 4660, from p. 107 onwards


4) As a basis for preparing the "Play of Noah" for the exam, read chapters 1 and 2 of the following book:

Dillon, Janette, The Cambridge Introduction to Early English Theatre, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006. 

And use one of the following links to study the text of the Play of Noah:

http://sites.fas.harvard.edu/~chaucer/special/litsubs/drama/noah.html or https://quod.lib.umich.edu/c/cme/Towneley/

5) Prepare one of the following papers: 

Palmer, Barbara D., 'Towneley Plays' or 'Wakefield Cycle' Revisited", Comparative Drama, Vol. 21, No. 4 (Winter 1987-88), pp. 318-348.


Sevestre, Nicole, "Le marchand dans le théâtre liturgique des XIIe et XIIIe siècles", Revue de Musicologie, T. 73, No. 1 (1987), pp. 39-59.

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