Project Title: Performing the Middle Ages: A Global Exploration of Medieval Performance Cultures in the Modern Midwest

Project Description:

“Performing the Middle Ages” explores global medieval performing arts through collaborative live productions by faculty, students, and professional performers, using the Consortium’s performance spaces as research laboratories to test approaches to historical practices and contemporary revivals. Films, digital galleries, and teaching kits derived from the performances will be uploaded to the HWW website for use in research and teaching. Scholarly analysis of all ten performances, embracing medieval Asia, Europe, and the Middle East, will occur in symposia and workshops as well as in essays by project leaders for a special issue of the journal The Medieval Globe.

Performances will be organized under three rubrics:

  • “The Global Heroic” explores the ethos and aesthetics of heroism in medieval narrative and drama from Japan, Britain, and Egypt: how the heroic is enacted, embodied, gendered, spiritualized, and parodied on the medieval and modern stage.

  • “Soundscapes” explores the performative dimensions of music and other forms of auditory experience: how instrumental music and human voices (as well as animal sounds, environmental noises, and sound effects) inform performance practice and shape the experience of audiences.

  • “The Performing Book” explores medieval manuscripts as performative artifacts through physical exhibits and a digital gallery: how manuscripts enact the experiences of medieval authors, scribes, and audiences, and how making, reading, collecting, and displaying them are also modes of performance.

Project members:
  • Univ. of Illinois: Elizabeth Oyler, Brian Ruppert (East Asian Languages & Cultures); Robert W. Barrett, Ann Hubert (graduate student), Andrea Stevens, and Sara Weisweaver (graduate student) (English); Carol Symes (History), Christopher Macklin (Music); Kyle A. Thomas (graduate student) (Theatre)
  • Univ. of Chicago: David Bevington (English); Reginald Jackson (East Asian Languages & Civlizations);
  • Indiana Univ.: Hildegard Keller (Germanic Studies); Rosemarie McGerr (English);
  • Univ. of Iowa: Claire Sponsler (English);
  • Univ. of Michigan: Joseph Lam (Music);
  • Univ. of Notre Dame: Margot Fassler (Music), Li Guo (Classics), Tala Jarjour (Music);
  • Ohio State Univ.:Mark Bender, Chan Park, Shelley Quinn (East Asian Languages & Literatures);
  • Purdue Univ.: Paul Whitfield White (English)

Organizer Name: Charles D. Wright

Organizer's Contact Information:, 217-333-0067

Organizer's Departmental and University Affiliation: English Department, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign