Article

German Drama

Glenn Ehrstine

in Medieval Studies

ISBN: 9780195396584
Published online March 2013 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195396584-0134
German Drama

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  • Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)
  • Literary Studies (Early and Medieval)
  • Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy
  • Byzantine and Medieval Art (500 CE to 1400)
  • Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Archaeology

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Long the domain of highly specialized scholars, the religious and secular plays of the German Middle Ages now attract broader attention, sparked by a growing interest in performance as a paradigm for human expression in general and religious experience in particular. The large-scale Passion play productions of cities such as Frankfurt and Lucerne are particularly rich sources for late medieval popular piety, while the licentiousness of carnival plays reveals contemporary attitudes toward sex, gender, and the body. Current work in the field is oriented more towards cultural studies, yet it benefits from the fresh philological sensitivity to surviving sources that emerged in the 1970s and 1980s. That reorientation saw systematic efforts to catalogue play manuscripts and surviving performance records, as well as to generate new critical editions of central texts that reflect the particularities of scribal practice and the high degree of intertextuality among plays of the period. The field is unfortunately still constrained by two factors: 1) the traditional focus of German medieval studies (Mediävistik) on the courtly literature of the High Middle Ages, which often neglects late medieval urban literary products as found in the plays; and 2) the lack of English-language research, which limits the comparative attention of the broad community of scholars working on medieval English theater.

Article.  17840 words. 

Subjects: Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500) ; Literary Studies (Early and Medieval) ; Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy ; Byzantine and Medieval Art (500 CE to 1400) ; Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Archaeology

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