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Sources II: Drama


European theatre grew out of the ecstatic cult of Dionysos (Bacchus) in Antiquity. Ever since, folklore has always been an important source for drama. With technological advances, this has continued in film, television, and now online streaming. Folklore-inspired drama has always been very popular. As well as reflecting the cultures of societies, it has helped to shape these cultures. The number of filmed, televised, and streamed dramas inspired by folklore is vast, but a selection is listed here. In this seminar, we will discuss how drama has drawn upon folklore and how we can use drama as a source for the study of folklore.

Seminar Question
  • How can drama be used as a source for the study of folklore?
Required Reading and Viewing
  • You should each read:

Gabbert, Lisa, 'Folk DramaLink opens in a new window', Humanities 7/2 (2018), 1-11

  • You should each read


Greenhill, Pauline, and Sidney Eve Matrix, 'Introduction: Envisioning Ambiguity: Fairy Tale Films' in Fairy Tale Films: Visions of AmbiguityLink opens in a new window, ed. Pauline Greenhill and Sidney Eve Matrix (Boulder, CO, 2010), pp 1-22


Rodgers, Diana A, 'Et in Arcadia Ego: British Folk Horror Film and Television', in Folklore and Nation in Britain and IrelandLink opens in a new window, ed. Matthew Cheeseman and Carina Hart (London, 2022), pp. 205-218

  • You should each choose and watch a film, a play, or a series which is based on folklore. You can choose one of the items listed here or you can select another of your own choice which is located in Europe. In the seminar, you will explain how folklore is used in your choice.
Further Reading

Arvidsson, Stefan, 'Wagner and the Rise of Modern MythologyLink opens in a new window' in The Cambridge Companion to Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen, ed. M. Berry and N. Vazsonyi (Cambridge, 2020), pp. 70-82

Barber, C. L., Shakespeare's Festive Comedy: A Study of Dramatic Form and its Relation to Social Custom, with a new foreword by Stephen Greenblatt (Princeton, NJ, 2012)

Brody, Alan, The English Mummers and their Plays: Traces of Ancient Mystery (Philadelphia, 1970)

Easterling, P. E, 'A Show for Dionysos', in P.E. Easterling (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Greek TragedyLink opens in a new window (Cambridge, 1997), 36-53.

Edgar, Robert, and Wayne Johnson, eds, The Routledge Companion to Folk HorrorLink opens in a new window (London, 2023)

Johnston, Derek, Haunted Seasons: Television Ghost Stories for Christmas and Horror for HalloweenLink opens in a new window (Houndmills, 2015)

Koven, Mikel J., 'Folklore Studies and Popular Film and Television: A Necessary Critical SurveyLink opens in a new window', The Journal of American Folklore 116/460 (2003), 176–195.

Laroque, Fran├žois, Shakespeare's Festive World: Elizabethan Seasonal Entertainment and the Professional Stage, trans. Janet Lloyd (Cambridge, 1991)

Mills, David, Recycling the Cycle: The City of Chester and Its Whitsun Plays (Toronto, 1998)

Rodgers, Diana A, 'Something 'Wyrd' This Way Comes: Folklore and British TelevisionLink opens in a new window', Folklore 130/2, (2019), 133-152

Schneider, Hermann, 'Richard Wagner and the EddaLink opens in a new window', German Life and Letters 3 (1939), 161-171

Seaford, Richard, DionysosLink opens in a new window (Abingdon, 2006)

Scovell, Adam, Folk Horror: Hours Dreadful and Things StrangeLink opens in a new window (Leighton Buzzard, 2017)

Short, Sue, Fairy Tale and Film: Old Tales with a New SpinLink opens in a new window (Basingstoke, 2014)

Zipes, Jack, The Enchanted Screen: The Unknown History of Fairy-Tale FilmsLink opens in a new window (London, 2010)

Zipes, Jack, Pauline Greenhill, and Kendra Magnus-Johnston, eds, Fairy-Tale Films Beyond Disney: International PerspectivesLink opens in a new window (New York, 2015)

Electronic Resources

Euripides, The Bacchae (extract)Link opens in a new window (BBC, 1984)

Bettany Hughes, Bacchus Uncovered: Ancient God of EcstasyLink opens in a new window (BBC, 2018)