MRDS Newsletter: Recent Events Spring 1995
Recent Events Spring 1995
MRDS at SAA
Continuing the MRDS aim of building bridges across the continental divide that once separated Shakespearean drama from medieval drama, MRDS members made a strong showing at this year's Shakespeare Association of America meeting in Chicago.
The newly elected president of the SAA, to assume office next year in the only repeat presidency in SAA history, is David Bevington, a founder of the MRDS. David was also the on-site host for this year's Association meeting in Chicago, by all reports a smashing success, including an engrossing rehearsal of scenes from Antony and Cleopatra, staged for the SAA by the Chicago Shakespeare Repertory Company, which has grown from a rooftop group into Chicago's third largest non-profit theater company. David led a stimulating discussion after the rehearsal. Congratulations all around, David.
MRDS members Steven Buhler (Univ. of Nebraska) and Kurt Daw (Kennesaw State College) led staging workshops; Jean R. Brink (Arizona State Univ.), Douglas Bruster (Univ. of Chicago), John D. Cox (Hope College), Jean E. Howard (Columbia Univ.), Barbara Palmer (Mary Washington College), and Milla Riggio (Trinity College) led seminars. Alan Nelson (Berkeley Univ.) made a special presentation, Alexandra F. Johnston (Univ. of Toronto) was a charter member of the Riggio seminar; other known MRDS participants included Alan Dessen (Univ. of North Carolina), Naomi Liebler (Montclair State University), Sally-Beth MacLean (REED), and Michael Shea (Southern Connecticut). Milla Riggio organized a Directors' Forum with Mark Lamos (Artistic Director of the Hartford Stage Company) and Joanne Akalaitis (freelance director). And there were doubtless more MRDS participants than have been here recognized.
Lisa Hopkins (Sheffield Hallam Univ.) was a co-winner of the 1994 Hoffman Prize for Distinguished Publication on Christopher Marlowe.
The Winner of the University of Delaware Press Shakespeare
Contest was Frederick Kiefer for Writing on the Renaissance
Stage: Written Words, Printed Pages, Metaphoric Books.
The runners-up were:
Irene Dash, Women's World in Shakespeare's Plays
Lawrence J. Ross, On Measure for Measure: An Essay in Criticism of Shakespeare's Drama
David N. Beauregard, "Virtue's Own Feature": Shakespearan Mimesis and Aristotelian-Thomistic Moral Philosophy
All of these books will be published by the University of Delaware Press.
Late in the afternoon of December 9, 1994, the day the CUNY Graduate Center hosted a series of events in honor of Martin Stevens' career, the auditorium lights went out. A dozen students rose from their seats and, flashlights in hand, began combing the audience, calling, "Martin, Martin, where are you, Martin?" Eventually, we discovered Martin seated in the front row, led him on stage, and, with a fanfare of plastic kazoos, enthroned him. Thus began the Martinmas.
I write this description as a student who helped stage the Martinmas; the scene exemplifies the spirit of warm collaboration with which we, students and faculty, medievalists and non-medievalists, worked to produce the day's festivities. It is this spirit of collaboration and community which Martin Stevens has long fostered in our department, and we hope to carry it on in his honor.
The day's festivities included a talk by David Bevington entitled, "Theatre as Cosmos in Medieval Drama and in Shakespeare." Then Prof. Catherine McKenna (Queens College and Graduate Center) presided over a series of panelists who shared their reminiscences of Martin: Prof. Earl Rovit (Emeritus, City College) spoke of being a colleague of Martin's at Louisville; Prof. Joseph Wittreich (Queens College and Graduate Center) was an undergraduate student in Martin's first English course (at Louisville); Prof. Larry Clopper (Indiana) was Martin's first Ph.D. student and spoke about the way Martin's help in preparing him for his comprehensive exam led to his working with Martin on his dissertation; Prof. Pamela Sheingorn (Baruch College) and Graduate Center) spoke of her team-teaching with Martin and of his deanship at Baruch; Prof. William McClelland (Baruch College) spoke of Martin's guidance in the use of contemporary theory in the study of medieval literature; Prof. Jim Paxson (Iona) spoke of Martin's influence on his work and of attending an NEH seminar run by Martin; and Prof. Milla Riggio (Trinity College) spoke of working with Martin on their forthcoming special edition of Mediaevalia and on a new electronic text project.
After Sylvia Tomasch presented the festschrift volume to Martin, the carnival began. Catherine McKenna (in Welsh costume topped with majestically towering, peaked hat) lauded Martin in honorific, pseudo-Old Welsh verse, which student Matthew Goldie, as one of a pair of Fools, translated for the audience. Tom Hartford, a student who comedically mimed the King's Dresser, crowned Martin with a flourish. Prof. Gordon Whatley (Queens College and Graduate Center), as a somber, cowled Aelfrich, read portions of the OE Life of St Martin (including an exorcism, mimed by students Mia Schilling, Robert Upchurch, and Tom Hartford, of an Americanist demon who is forced to exit the possessed's body not through the mouth but through the "post-modernist forthgang"). Prof. Steven Kruger (Queens College and Graduate Center) as a fierce and noble Hrothgar (complete with cape and bicycle helmet) thanked Beowulf for his heroic deeds; Fool #2 (Prof. David Greetham, Graduate Center) ingeniously established through textual variants that "Beowulf" must be restored to its original meaning, "Martin."
One of the fete's highlights was Prof. Scott Westrem's (Lehman College and Graduate Center) discovery of a 144-line middle English manuscript fragment of the Canterbury Tales (Quirkish 40-32, coincidentally Martin's office number at the Graduate Center). The fragment is a "portrait of a pilgrim . . . clearly meant to be included in the "General Prologue" and is forthcoming in Speculative: A Journal of Medieval Follies. The portrait describes Martin's career with great Chaucerian aplomb; among the priceless moments is the rationale that Martin wears a beard so as to save shaving time:
That is in terme of minutes just a fewe,
But tyme ynogh to rede som Derryda,
DeMan, Saussure, and Krysteva.
He moste been a scoler or a masochist,
For he coude rede a poete or a theorist
And get therof both sentence and solas. (836-41)
Near the end of this fragment, the pilgrims cry out, "Part nat from us, Dere Martin, leef nat our compaignye! We nede your wysdom, juggement, revelrye!" (958-60) The students and faculty sitting clustered onstage at Martin's feet joined in, at these lines, and I am certain that members of the audience at that performance also joined in, as will MRDS readers.