Stevens Award - 2004
Martin Stevens Award for the Best New Essay in Early Drama Studies
Four essays were nominated in the 2004 competition, all by senior scholars with well-established track records. After careful consideration the committee unanimously awarded the prize to Professor Alexandra F. Johnston for her essay "The Feast of Corpus Christi in the West Country" in Early Theatre 6.1 (June 2003).
Members of the committee were agreed that Professor Johnston's challenge to the idea of the "Corpus Christi play" both demanded a radical rethinking of early English drama and presented new evidence to extend scholarly understanding of the problems surrounding that idea. The new material from the West Country informed several important discussions at different levels: of a broader dramatic context, including a range of mid-summer festivities; of the power struggle in 1414-49 between the ecclesiastical and civic authorities in Exeter and the role of public spectacle therein; and of the probable nature of the Exeter Skinners' play. These discussions demonstrated careful management of the evidence supporting the argument, and a grace and clarity of expression that made the work both easier and more enjoyable to assimilate.