MRDS Newsletter: MRDS Annual Awards Fall 2006
MRDS Annual Awards Fall 2006
MRDS Annual Awards
The 2006 David Bevington Award for the Best New Book in Early Drama Studies
Philip Butterworth. Magic on the Early English Stage. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005.
Philip Butterworth's Magic on the Early English Stage will be as indispensible for scholars in the field as his earlier book Theatre of Fire. No one else in the field has Butterworth's wealth of specialized knowledge about stage tricks of all kinds. The book might better have been called Illusion of the Early English Stage because it goes beyond what a modern reader might think of as 'magic' to include juggling, sleight of hand, acrobatic activities such as tumbling, dancing on ropes and vaulting, mechanical illusions such as automata and puppets, sound effects and how disappearances were contrived. In his final chapter he takes on the tricky task of attempting to sort out the terminology to distinguish performative magic from alchemy and witchcraft. Fully documented with charming contemporary illustrations, this fascinating book presents truly new and exciting material that helps explain references in both texts and external documentation that many of us have found opaque in the past. It will be useful to students and scholars alike illuminating arcane practices that round out our understanding of early stage practice. It is a book we will all be referring to in the future.
The 2006 Martin Stevens Award for the Best New Essay in Early Drama Studies
Barbara D. Palmer, "Early Modern Mobility: Players, Payments, and Patrons," Shakespeare Quarterly 56 (2005), pp. 259-305.
In "Early Modern Mobility," Barbara Palmer challenges the theatrical hegemony of London and demonstrates the vibrancy, professionalism, and high visibility of itinerant acting companies that toured northern towns and great households in the age of Shakespeare (ca. 1570-1642). Touring players, traveling gentry, and the transport of goods and services provided constant interchange between the London metropole and provincial towns (York, Doncaster) and households (Clifford, Cavendish). Drawing on the Records of Early English Drama she and John Wasson gathered for the West Riding and Derbyshire volume, Barbara Palmer demolishes conventional distinctions drawn between London high and rural low theater culture and between medieval and modern playing-styles. Contrary to the traditional view, traveling players almost never performed in inn-yards and taverns, but rather in town and guild halls, churches, and manorial great halls. Barbara Palmer expands our understanding of the ways in which geographical and social mobility complemented one another. She summons the records to show how quickly and efficiently players traveled, how well they were received, how generously they were compensated, and how significantly they, as well as musicians, waits, and fools contributed to the dissemination of news and ideas. Her lively and provocative prose disarms reproof, while her rigorous analysis of civic and household accounts sets high standards for future scholarship.
The 2006 Alexandra Johnston Award for Best New Conference Paper in Early Drama Studies by a Graduate Student
Christopher Lee, "Jews as Didactic Instruments" delivered at the New Medievalism II conference, University of Western Ontario, March 2005.
Christopher Lee's paper, "Jews as Didactic Instruments," argues that medieval playmakers employed Jewish characters to instruct their audiences about proper semiotic interpretation, particularly on how spectators ought to arrive at Christian truth. In the process, the dramatists also explored the pedagogical effectiveness of their own dramatic signs. His analyses of the Jeu d'Adam and the Benediktbeuern play offer real interpretive power, as he argues for the connection of belief to learning in the Anglo-Norman play, and he extends this insight in his reading of the Benediktbeuern Christmas Play, seeing the debate between Archisynagogus and the Prophets as "a parody of the interreligious debate format and the scholastic methods of instruction." All the judges were impressed by the way his paper covered a broad swathe of medieval drama and seemed to add something genuinely new to the often narrow discussion of anti-Semitism in medieval drama. While all the nominees were excellent in their distinct ways, Mr. Lee's piece was notable in the way it managed to be theoretically sophisticated without being jargon bound, and also in the manner it applied its analytic perspective to a diverse group of plays.
CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS - MRDS ANNUAL AWARDS 2007
The Medieval and Renaissance Drama Society seeks nominations for its annual awards;
1. The David Bevington Award for Best New Book in Early Drama
($150 and two years membership in MRDS)
2. The Martin Stevens Award for Best New Essay in Early Drama
($100 and one year membership in MRDS)
3. The Alexandra Johnston Award for Best New Conference Paper in
Early Drama Studies by a Graduate Student
($100 and one year membership in MRDS)
Deadline: January 15, 2007.
Works by any MRDS member in good standing. Members may nominate their own works.
For each category, two MRDS Executive Council members and one non-council member of MRDS.
For the Bevington and Stevens Awards: Any book or essay published within 18 months of the deadline. For the Johnston Award: Any conference paper delivered by a graduate student within 12 months of the deadline. Entries for the Johnston Award should not exceed 5,000 words, excluding notes, and should include the name and date of the conference at which the paper was delivered and, where appropriate, the title and sponsor of the panel.
Send one copy of each book or three copies of each essay or paper to:
14 N. Harwood Circle
Madison, WI, USA 53717
Awards announcement and presentation will take place during the annual MRDS business meeting in May 2007, at the 42nd International Congress on Medieval Studies, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI
Questions about the awards: Contact Max Harris at firstname.lastname@example.org