MRDS Newsletter: MLA Allied Organization Status Spring 1995
MLA Allied Organization Status Spring 1995
Allied Organization Status
MRDS and MLA
Last fall, we received a letter from the MLA telling us that our status as an Allied Organization was up for renewal. Since that time, Larry Clopper and Milla Riggio, with some help from David Bevington and Barbara Palmer, have put together the following document, buttressed by newsletters, calls for papers, and other additional items. Since most of us have joined MRDS since its inception in a hotel room shared by Alan Dessen and Stanley Kahrl in 1980, we thought you might be interested in the brief history we prepared for the MLA, as well as what we said on your behalf. We do not know yet whether our status will be renewed or the organization will be suspended, but we do expect renewal. The new and ever-more-restrictive MLA rules, however, now formally limit us to two events (including academic sessions, business meetings, officially listed parties) per convention. We've chosen to offer two academic sessions at MLA, transferred our annual business meeting to the far more amiable climate of Kalamazoo, and will continue to hold our party informally. As long as Larry is President, members can be assured of a party worth attending! So watch for that announcement in the fall newsletter. Below is the information we were asked to supply, without the supporting materials we forwarded to the MLA. This document went in to the MLA on March 31 of this year. Here's hoping!
1. A brief history of the organization since it became an allied organization and a self-evaluation, including a description of its programs at the MLA convention, and any other relevant information: The Medieval and Renaissance Drama Society (MRDS) was formed in 1980, having its genesis at the Modern Language Association Convention in that year. Meeting in the hotel room of Stanley Kahrl and Alan Dessen, a group of medieval and Renaissance drama teachers and scholars agreed to form a society which would enable them to oversee the presentation of sessions on medieval and Renaissance drama at the Modern Language Association meetings, where such drama was seldom represented. Spearheaded by a group including Professors David Bevington, Alan Dessen, Barbara Palmer, and John Wasson, with strong support from such scholars as Martin Stevens, the MRDS gained accreditation from the MLA as an allied Organization in 1981. Since that time, it has fulfilled its primary goal of organizing sessions at MLA meetings. These sessions have showcased the most recent theoretical, experiential, scholarly, and critical approaches to drama, focusing particularly on comparative forms of drama (ranging from England to Germany to modern Persia, Puerto Rico, and Trinidad), on theoretical approaches to drama, on cultural anthropology, on modern remnants of medieval performance arts and so forth. (Please see section 3 below for details of recent MLA sessions.)
In addition to organizing sessions for the MLA, where it holds its annual meeting, the MRDS has also been instrumental in organizing medieval and Renaissance drama sessions annually at the Medieval Congresses hosted by The Medieval Institute of Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo the first week of May each year. In addition, in its desire to make texts of medieval drama available for undergraduate and graduate classes, the MRDS has also overseen the creation of a translation series. This series, edited by Martin Stevens of the CUNY Graduate Center and Stephen Wright of Catholic University and published by the Binghamton State University of New York press, focuses on translations of medieval texts not hitherto available in English. The MRDS provides fees for readers of manuscripts. It also monitors the editorial process for the series, which is now making available its first texts, with another half-dozen or so well underway. This series should provide inexpensive texts which will allow for a much broader interactive base for teaching medieval and Renaissance drama throughout the English-speaking academic world.
The MRDS also serves through its bi-annual newsletter as a clearing house for information on conferences, publications, productions, and so forth relating to medieval and Renaissance drama. We have enclosed a set of these newsletters dating from 1988, when Milla Riggio assumed the role of secretary/treasurer of the organization and began editing the newsletter. In terms of self-evaluation, at the risk of sounding too self-serving, we believe that the MRDS provides a unique service to American, English, Canadian, continental European, South African, Australian, New Zealand, and Japanese scholars and teachers: as an organization we bridge the divide between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. We encourage cultural approaches to drama; we work to insure comparative dramatic focus, both in Western culture and between the cultures of various backgrounds. We actively encourage the participation of graduate students. We work to bring directors, actors and theatrical presenters together with scholars and critics. We have increased our membership from its initial dozen or so participants to well over 200. We consistently prune our membership lists, keeping them current and aiming to recruit among recent graduate students, who are also encouraged to be presenters in our sessions. Our aims are modest, but we perhaps immodestly believe we have achieved those aims. We struggle to understand why we have to fight so hard to defend the small square of territory we have carved out for ourselves, but we do believe that this territory is valuable ground. Please see the rest of the file for confirmation of our activities.
2. Evidence of ongoing activity, e.g., publications and official communications to members: Enclosed is a sample of correspondence to MRDS members relating calls for papers, renewal of memberships, etc., and a complete set of our bi-annual newsletters dating back to 1988.
3. Evidence that the organization has involved a diverse portion of its membership in its activities, including convention programs:
Recent Participation in the Modern Language Association Meetings
Selection of Topics and Organizers: Topics are selected at the general business meeting of the Society. The meeting is open to all members. Topics may be generated by discussion in the business meeting or proposed by individuals. If a topic proposed by an individual is endorsed, the proposer is normally made the organizer of the session. Topics generated by discussion are assigned to a member willing to organize the session.
Range of Topics: The Society attempts to balance medieval and Renaissance topics and to give play to continental materials. As recent programs indicate, the society has welcomed New World material and has also encouraged more theoretical approaches to its areas of interest.
Participation and Participants: Calls for papers are listed in the MLA and MRDS Newsletters. They also appear on the ListServers PERFORM and REEDL.
Out of a total of 48 presenters listed below, 17 were graduate students at the time they offered their papers.
Positions as Organizers and Presiders are passed around. In several cases a presenter later became an organizer. There is only one instance of a person functioning more than once as Organizer or Presider, Lawrence M. Clopper, and this was partly the result of his being an officer of the society, Vice-President in 1989 and President in 1994, when he took responsibility for organizing the topics selected in the business meeting.
LIST OF PROGRAMS IN RECENT YEARS
29 December 1988
I. English Drama in the 1520s
Presiding: John Coldewey, Univ. of Washington
Panel Discussion followed by question/answer period:
"University and Inns of Court Drama," Alan H. Nelson, UC-Berkeley, and John R. Elliott, Syracuse Univ.
"Tudor Interludes and Court Entertainment," William R. Streitberger, Univ. of Washington
"Cycle Revisions," Lawrence M. Clopper, Indiana Univ.
"The Morality Play," Robert A. Potter, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara
"Civic Dramatic Spectacle," Gordon L. Kipling, Univ. of California, Los Angeles
"Parish Drama," John Wasson, Washington State Univ.
II. Recent Research on German Drama
Presiding: Eckehard Simon, Harvard Univ.
"The Manuscripts of German Plays: Notes on Rolf Bergmann's Katalog der deutschsprachigen geistlichen Spiele (1986)," Ralph J. Blasting, Univ. of Toronto
"Records of Early German Drama: Notes on Bernd Neumann's Geistliches Schauspiel im Zeugnis der Zeit (1987)," John Tailby, Centre for Medieval Studies, Univ. of Leeds
29 December 1989
I. Cultural Crosscurrents in Medieval and Renaissance
Presiding: Lawrence M. Clopper
"Ghosts of Stages Past: The Hermaneutics of Horror in Giraldo Cinthio's Orbecche, Hetruscus Perfidus, and Shakespeare's Hamlet," Elizabeth Richmond, Columbia Univ.
"Traders and Playmakers: English Guildsmen and the Low Countries," Alexandra F. Johnston, Univ. of Toronto
"From Erudite Comedy to Religious Drama in 16th-century Florence: the Case of Giovan Maria Cecchi (1518-1587)," Konrad Eisenbichler, Victoria College, Univ. of Toronto
II. Comic Continuities in Medieval and Renaissance Drama: The
Figure of the Fool
Presiding: Shearle Furnish, East Texas State Univ.
"Just Fooling: Forms of Play and the Critique of Power in Early Modern Performance," Kathleen Ashley, Univ. of Southern Maine
"Typology and Comic Structure in the Wakefield Plays," James Paxson, SUNY, Stony Brook
"The King and the Fool: One and Zero," Rose Zimbardo, SUNY, Stony Brook
29 December 1990
I. Moving Subjects: The Semiotics of Processional
Presiding" Kathleen Ashley, Univ. of Southern Maine
"Moving Subjects and Ritual Space: The Function of Liturgical Processions," C. Clifford Flanigan, Indiana Univ.
"Annual Processions and the Changing Ideology of the Merchant Class," John Cartwright, Univ. of Cape Town, South Africa
"Something Nasty in the Wilderness: Queen Elizabeth on Progress," Michael Leslie, Sheffield Univ.
II. New Historicism and Medieval and Renaissance Drama
Presiding: David M. Bevington, Univ. of Chicago
"Biblical Plays and Historical Reading," Theresa M. Coletti, Univ. of Maryland, College Park
"Distinguishing Devils and Vices from Clowns," John D. Cox, Hope Coll.
"The Historical Subject in Medieval Drama," Peter W. Travis, Dartmouth College
27 December 1991
I. East Anglian Drama
NB: This session was intended to celebrate the publication of the Early English Text Society of the N-Town Plays.
Presiding: Lawrence M. Clopper
"N-Town: Unity and Diversity in a Tricky Text," Stephen Spector, SUNY, Stony Brook
"Fleshing the Word: The N-Town 'Woman Taken in Adultery' and the Medieval Ministry Play," Gail McMurray Gibson, Davidson College
"Mankind and the Monastic Agenda," John Bowers, Univ. of Nevada, Las Vegas
II. Feminist Approaches to Medieval and Renaissance Drama
Presiding: Pamela Sheingorn, Baruch College, CUNY
"Other Places and the Place of the Other in Medieval English Drama," Sylvia Tomasch, Carleton College
"Acting Mary: The Emotional Realism of the Virgin in the N-Town Passion Play," Alexandra F. Johnston, Univ. of Toronto
"Gender and Shakespeare," Suzanne Gossett, Loyola Univ., Chicago
29 December 1992
I. Drama and Resistance
Presiding: Sheila Lindenbaum, Indiana Univ.
"Resistance, Religion and the Aesthetic: Power and Drama in the Towneley 'Magnus Herodes,' Cambises and Richard III," Robert Knapp, Reed College
"Exorcism by Fasting in A Woman Killed with Kindness: A Paradigm of Puritan Resistance?" Nancy Gutierrez, Arizona State Univ.
"Somerset Parish Drama and Resistance to Institutions," James Stokes, Univ. of Wisconsin, Stevens Point
II. Audience Reception of Early Drama
Presiding: Suzanne Westfall, Lafayette College
"Early Tudor Plays and Their Audiences," Paul W. White, Baylor Univ.
"The Construction of Christian Subjectivity in the Towneley Plays," Maris G. Fiondella, Fordham Univ.
"John Heywood's The Four PP and the Humanism of Acting," Kent Cartwright, Univ. of Maryland, College Park
"Oranges and Other Goodies: Missiles of Audience Reaction in Valencia, Madridien (and London) Playhouses," Joyce Harper, Univ. of Massachusetts, Amherst
29 December 1993
I. Collisions and Continuities: Rituals and Processions in the
CaribbeanA Christian and a Muslim Example
Presiding and responding, Robert Potter, UC-Santa Barbara
The session included Video and Slide Presentations
"La Fiesta de los Santos Inocentes: A Puerto Rican Vestige of the Feast of Fools?," Frederick B. Jonassen, Univ. of Puerto Rico, Mayagez
"Burying the Sacred: Hosay in Trinidad," Milla C. Riggio, Trinity College
"Preserving and Transmitting Culture: Steps Toward a Theory," Michael Bristol, McGill Univ.
II. Theorizing Medieval Drama
Presiding: Theresa Coletti, Univ. of Maryland, College Park
"Excess, Ecstasy, and the Permable Self in the Digby Play of Mary Magdalene," Laura Severt King, Yale Univ.
"Reading Miracles: A Folklore Approach to the Miracle de Thophile, Leslie Abend Callahan, CUNY Graduate Center
"The Erection of Subjectivity: Homosexual Aggression and the Paradox of Identity in the Chester Innocents Play," Laura Wilber Williams, Univ. of Maryland, College Park
27 December 1994
I. Editing and Translating Medieval Texts: Memorial Session in
Honor of A.C. Cawley
Presiding: Lawrence M. Clopper, Indiana Univ.
NB: This session was also intended to acknowledge the Early English Text Society publication of the Towneley Plays, ed. by Cawley and Stevens.
"Editing the Medieval Drama," Martin Stevens, Graduate Center, CUNY
"'Fy on the, Harlot, with Thi Glosynge': When Glosses Become Texts in Middle English Drama," Gerard NeCastro, Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison
"The Betrayer's Art: Translating Medieval Drama for Modern Readers," Stephen K. Wright, Catholic Univ. of America
II. Robin Hood and Performance
Presiding: Lois Potter, Univ. of Delaware, Newark
"The Economy of Misrule: George a Greene and Edward I," Edwin Davenport, Univ. of Michigan, Ann Arbor
"Munday's Unruly Earl," Jeffrey Singman, Univ. of Michigan, Ann Arbor
"Cross-dressing in Early Dramatic Treatments of the Robin Hood Material," Michael Shapiro, Univ. of Illinois, Urbana
"Sweet Moll and Malinche: Maid Marian goes to Mexico," Max Harris, Wisconsin Humanities Committee
"Robin Hood in the Movies," Katherine Morsberger, California State Polytechnic Univ. and Robert Morsberger, Univ. of California, Riverside
4. A statement of the organization's purpose, and the date the organization was founded: Founded in 1980, the Medieval and Renaissance Drama Society had a three-fold purpose: to organize two sessions at each MLA Convention meeting so as to insure that the best and most recent approaches to medieval and Renaissance drama were always visibly presented at the annual convention; to support long-range projects of interest to those teaching and researching medieval and Renaissance drama; and to support Research Opportunities in Renaissance Drama, a journal edited by David Bergeron at the University of Kansas. See number 1 for a description of how these aims have been carried out and expanded since 1980.
5. A copy of the organization's constitution or bylaws showing the date of adoption:
THE CONSTITUTION OF THE MEDIEVAL AND RENAISSANCE DRAMA SOCIETY
There shall be a non-profit educational society called the Medieval and Renaissance Drama Society. Its purposes shall be to effect annual meetings of scholars and other persons interested in medieval and Renaissance drama, to sponsor long-range projects of interest to such persons, and to publish material of interest to the Society including Research Opportunities in Renaissance Drama and its Medieval Supplement.
In the present document, "Society" shall mean and refer to the Medieval and Renaissance Drama Society, its successors and assigns. "Member" shall mean and refer to those persons who are dues-paying participants in the work of the Society and who are thus entitled to vote. Membership shall be open to all Medieval and Renaissance Drama scholars and to other persons to whom the study of Medieval and Renaissance Drama is personally important. A member shall forfeit membership if that person is in default of dues six months after being billed or two months after a second notice of dues has been mailed to him/her.
The executive powers of the Society shall be vested in a Council consisting of a President, a Vice-President, a Secretary-Treasurer, and six other members elected by paid-up members of the Society. The President, Vice-President and Secretary-Treasurer shall be elected every two years for two-year terms; the other members of the Council shall be elected two each year in rotation for three-year terms. All officers shall be eligible for re-election, except that the President should serve not more than two two-year terms in succession. A vacancy on the Council, whether for one of the three executive offices or for the Council at-large, shall be filled by the remaining members of the Council. The officer thus appointed to a vacancy shall serve for the remainder of the term of office being filled. In the event that a Council member at-large is elected or appointed to one of the three executive offices, the vacancy on the Council shall be filled in the manner already described. Term of office shall normally be from the conclusion of the annual meeting [following the election until the conclusion of the annual meeting] three years following, or as appropriate to the length of term to which the officer has been elected or appointed.
Annual meetings of the Society shall normally be held during the meetings of the Modern Language Association of America. Notice of meetings shall be mailed to members by the Secretary-Treasurer at least 30 days prior to the time of meeting, unless members are duly notified by an announcement in the official program of the Modern Language Association.
To be Amended 1995 to read: Annual meetings of the society shall normally be held during the Medieval Congress at Kalamazoo. Notice of meetings will be included in the MRDS newsletter each year.
Nominations for election to the three executive offices and to the Council at-large shall be made by a Nominating Committee. Nominations shall also be made by petition of twenty members of the Society in writing to the Secretary-Treasurer. Such petitions must be received 3 months prior to the annual meeting. The Nominating Committee shall consist of a chairman, who may but need not be a member of the Council, and one or more members of the Society. The Nominating Committee shall be appointed by the President of the Society prior to each annual meeting, to serve from the conclusion of that annual meeting until the conclusion of the following annual meeting. Such appointment shall be announced at each annual meeting. The Nominating Committee shall make at least two nominations for each vacancy on the Council, taking carefully into account the various constituencies making up the Society. Election shall be by signed ballot. The candidate receiving the largest number of votes will be appointed to the vacant position.
The Council shall have the power to nominate the annual meeting candidates for honorary membership. The number of honorary members shall at no time exceed six.
The Council will normally meet each year in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Society and of the Modern Language Association. Special meetings of the Council may be called by the President or by any two Council members, after no less than ten days' notice to each Council member. A majority of the number of Council members shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business. Every action or decision taken by a majority of the council members present at a duly held meeting or, in lieu of a majority, by an arbitrary quorum of five, shall be regarded as the action of the entire Council. The Council shall have the right to take any action in the absence of a meeting of the Council which they could take at a meeting of the Council by obtaining the written approval of a majority of the total number of Council members. Any action so approved shall have the same effect as though taken at a meeting of the Council. The Council shall, at its discretion, poll the membership of the Society as a whole to assist it in making various decisions, either by mail or at the Society's annual MLA meeting.
The Council shall be empowered to conduct the affairs of the Society. Specifically, it shall have the power:
- To fix annual dues, and to receive the annual dues of the members and administer the Society's funds;
- To determine the editorial policy of the Society, and have general oversight over publication and the appointment of editors;
- To plan the annual meeting, or to appoint at its discretion a Program Committee for this purpose, or to act itself as a Program Committee;
- To adopt and publish rules and regulations governing the Society.
The President or a duly elected representative shall preside at all meetings of the Council and of the Society. The President shall appoint the Nominating Committee and other pertinent committees, and shall supervise the affairs of the Society during the year.
The Vice-President shall serve as presiding officer in the absence of the President, and shall assist in the affairs of the Society.
The Secretary-Treasurer shall keep records of actions taken by the Council and by the Society, including all voting matters, and shall present minutes for approval at the next annual meeting of the Council. The Secretary-Treasurer shall also serve as Treasurer, receiving and depositing in appropriate bank accounts all monies of the Society, keeping proper books of account, and presenting annually to the Council an annual statement of income and expenditures. The Secretary-Treasurer shall keep an up-to-date membership list of the Society, with addresses, and shall conduct mail ballots when necessary, and shall give notice when dues are payable and overdue.
Amendments to this Constitution may be proposed by the Council or by written petition signed by at least twenty members in good standing. Such proposed amendments shall be moved and seconded at an annual general meeting and voted upon by the membership at the next annual general meeting.
AMENDED MRDS Annual Meeting, December 1985: Vice-President automatically to move into the presidency.
6. Current membership numbers and sample membership application: We currently have a paid-up membership of 246 persons, including members in the United States, Canada, England, France, Japan, Australia, South Africa, and New Zealand. Our current membership includes graduate students and adjunct teachers as well as tenured and tenure-track professors and independent scholars and artists. Enclosed for your benefit is a list of member labels. Since we do not have a formal application for membership, we are enclosing the notice for nomination to membership that accompanies each MRDS newsletter. The process of applying is very informal. Any person who wishes to join is permitted to do so; every person nominated is contacted. In order to join the society, a prospective member need only write the current Secretary/Treasurer explaining the desire to join, identifying him/herself and stating the reason of the person's interest in the Society, and enclosing at least one year's dues. This system works very well.
7. A description of the dues structure: The dues of the MRDS were initially $6.00 per year, which included the subvention to support RORD. In the past 13 years, the dues structure for tenured and tenure-track academic personnel has doubled to enable us to support the translation series initiated by the Society (see no. 1), to provide a larger subvention for RORD (currently $5.00 per member) to offset increasing publication costs, to support travel costs for members who present papers and must travel with minimal support from long distances (Holland or South Africa or Japan, for instance), to provide other support costs for presentations, to support the bi-annual newsletter, solicitations for papers, and other incidental costs. Our current dues are, thus, $12.00 annually for tenured and tenure-track professors; $10.00 for graduate students, adjunct professors, and independent scholars and artists.