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Festival and Performance in the European Renaissance


School of Theatre, Performance and Cultural Policy Studies

TH216 - Aspects of Theatre and Performance: Festivals and Performance in European Renaissance

Tutor: Dr Margaret Shewring (


Spring Term 2012

Seminars: Thursday 9.00-11.00

Room: G52

50% = 1 x 3000 word essay (essay questions to be released in week 5)
50% = 1 x 1.5 hour exam in the summer term



The aim of this term-long option is to provide an introduction to the study of a variety of Festival occasions that took place during the Renaissance and Early Modern Period in England and across Europe.

Overall content/subject matter

Seminar introductions and discussion will include the social, historical, political and cultural significance of court and civic Festivals as well as the performative elements of such occasions. The process of commissioning and devising appropriate festivals, the entertainments (including masques and dramatic interludes), the festival books prepared, the costume, scenic and architectural designs, the involvement of fine art, music, ballet and spectacle and the reception of such occasions in the Renaissance, will be considered both in relation to specific Festivals and in the context of a more general understanding of the evolution of a shared performance language appropriate to such events.



Recently, it has become possible to study festivals in detail from edited texts. The module will make frequent use of on-line resources as well as of books available in the library of the University of Warwick.

Reading on-line will include:

The British Library web site, Treasures in Full: Renaissance Festival Books. This is the web site for the University of Warwick – British Library Festival Books digitisation project which was directed by Ronnie Mulryne and Margaret Shewring, with input from Dr. Kristian Jensen and his colleagues at the British Library. Richard Parker from the University of Warwick’s Library was a member of the project’s steering group. This on-line resource was launched in March 2006.

Students may also access the Warwick website on Renaissance Festivals, devised by Dr. Margaret Shewring and Professor Ronnie Mulryne. This site is designed to complement the British Library site (see above).

All students should read the introductory essays that appear on the British Library site before the start of the course. The site also includes a useful short bibliography.