Ibn Butlân Tacuinum sanitatis, Latin with German translation c.1400 composite from BNF MS lat 9333 folios 92v, 85r, and 90v.

Saturday 4 April 2020


Consumption, Performance, and Early Theatre


University of Wolverhampton


The 2020 Medieval English Theatre Meeting will be on 4 April at the University of Wolverhampton, hosted by Daisy Black. The theme will be Consumption, Performance, and Early Theatre.





A printable pdf version of this Call for Papers.


Consumption involves the using up of a resource, whether through acts of imbibing or intake and acts of expenditure or through decaying or wasting away. Early performance relies on consumption, whether this takes the form of Eucharistic consumption accompanying liturgy; Eve’s sinful act of consumption that provided pretext and plot for urban biblical pageants; the use of performance to sell goods and medicines; the material goods required to create dramatic spectacle; the consumption of drink, ideas and time by spectators and performers; or the Tudor feasts that produced space for dramatic interludes. The Records of Early English Drama, with their lists of goods, payments and services, provide an archive of evidence for consumption practice.


Yet acts of consumption in early drama are often fraught. Consumption is as often used to articulate doubt or mark characters and performance makers as morally dubious as it is to ensnare the senses of audiences. In a climate both preoccupied with material consumption at a global level and in which we, as researchers, theatre practitioners and teachers are frequently reminded that our labour is also consumer material, this conference seeks to examine how consumption is manifested, managed and questioned in early performance. Topics might include but are not limited to:

  • The consumption of raw materials and/ or material culture in the production and performance of early drama
  • Food or fasting in early performance; the morality, ethics and/or theology of consumption
  • Economies of consumption in early performance
  • Ritual performance and faith; inclusion and community
  • Subversive consumption, over-consumption and/or consumption as a source of ‘othering’
  • Consumption, spectacle and the senses
  • The consumption of play manuscripts and texts
  • Critical reflections on the role of consumption within modern performances and broadcasts of early drama
  • Critical reflections on the role of consumption in early drama pedagogy and/or research

We invite 300-word proposals from scholars at any stage of study or career, for 20 minute papers or roundtable sessions on any topic related to the theme; please submit your proposals by the extended deadline of 1 December 2019 to Daisy Black: d.black3@wlv.ac.uk.


A printable pdf version of this Call for Papers is attached. Please circulate it to any interested parties.


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© Meg Twycross 2019