Regional cultures and local subcultures: worlds of theatre in late medieval France
11 / 2002 - 04 / 2007
Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (NWO)
French medieval drama never existed as such. There certainly were, during the Middle Ages, performances in what we now call France, or in French, which we would label, nowadays, as theatrical plays, but the idea they were all part of an evolution of 'the' 'early' 'French' 'theatre' - never questioned - cannot be maintained. Before defining a tradition of French medieval drama, one could try to let documents speak, and that is precisely what this new research line intends to do. Such an approach implies a chronological and geographical precision, because early fifteenth century farce, for instance, is not necessarily the same as middle sixteenth century farce. A mystery played in Arras around 1435 doesn't necessarily have a direct relation to a mystery played in Paris in 1541. Whether one would call it reconstruction or deconstruction is, finally, of little interest; the issue that is at stake is a re-documentation, or a return to the sources of a tradition much lesser known than general studies tend to let us believe. A first step, in this, will be a thorough study of three traditions: the Parisian farce between 1507 and 1521, the world of theatre in the cities in Northern France, and the changing functions of political and worldly allegory within a dramatic context between 1490 and 1540.