New Podcast: Poet Caroline Bird Speaks to the 98 Percent

Stream here or download via your favourite podcast player. “Poetry doesn’t ask you how old you are at the door”, says Caroline Bird, reflecting on the fact that her first collection, Looking at Letterboxes, was published when she was aged just 15. Since then, Caroline has authored four more collections, won numerous awards, and been... Continue Reading →

Romanticism and the Uncharitable Quip

With their epic poems and philosophical themes, Romantic writers are hardly associated with the lighter side of life. However, ahead of a forthcoming conference on Humour and Satire in British Romanticism that suggests that humour should be put back on the menu, Daniel Norman serves up a joke from an auspicious dinner party. It’s often... Continue Reading →

Playful but Problematic: Medieval Humour and Contemporary Performance

Laughing jester
Stockholm Court Jester, by Anonymous, Netherlands [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Medieval drama often featured religious themes, retelling biblical stories on stage – not material you would expect to be given a comic treatment. In this blog post for the Humours of the Post project, Jamie Beckett (part of the Records of Early English Drama North East team) describes how early drama may actually have made considerable use of humour and comedy, and explains how to reproduce the jokes of the past for a modern audience.


Humours of the Past

Jamie Beckett, Durham University

Aside from the slightly tired yet somehow satisfying adage, ‘humour studies is no laughing matter’, I had little idea what to expect when I first heard about the first HOP Collaboratory, hosted at the University of Aberdeen. As a PhD candidate at Durham University, I explore the relevance and function of humour and laughter within late medieval drama, specifically those performances of biblical or devotional drama which were staged in the North East of England in the fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth centuries. Yet whether it’s discussing obscene portrayals of biblical patriarchs, or the riotous laughter of unruly townspeople, I’m often the only humour scholar at the party.

I’m fairly used to the responses I get from most people when I’ve told them what I do. ‘That sounds like fun’, which it is – some of the time. ‘How interesting’, which it is – most of the…

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New Podcast: A Funny Kind of Devotion? Laughter in the Biblical Drama of Late Medieval Towns and Cities

When people think of medieval Christianity they often summon up visions of mumbling monks and self-flagellating martyrs, opulence and grandeur paired up with austerity and strict morality. But where was the laughter? Where were the jokes? (And were they funny?)  In this podcast, recorded as part of an exhibition on Festive Traditions in the North East held... Continue Reading →

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