Uncovering Performance in Medieval Scandinavia:

A Survey and Analysis of Medieval Performance in Scandinavia

The academic study of Scandinavian culture and Scandinavian literature has long ignored the engagement of the Nordic nations in the tradition of drama and performance in medieval Europe. Early drama history scholars like Sophus Birket Smith and G.E. Klemming made claims about a perceived lack of practice based on limited sources and most of the scholars who followed them have accepted those claims as valid. Unfortunately, Birket Smith and Klemming were working with an incomplete corpus and nineteenth-century ideas about what constituted “drama”. Later scholars such as Frederick and Lise-Lone Marker and Terry Gunnell have made great headway in expanding the concept of drama and performance within the field of Scandinavian studies while also clarifying what texts we do, in fact, still have. The work that has been done, however, is still far below the level of depth and complexity of work that has been done with the study of medieval drama and performance in other language traditions. It is my goal to gather and present a more complete corpus of early Scandinavian drama along with an analysis of the work that has been done to date. The goal of this dissertation is to offer an overview of this long misunderstood tradition and to introduce the international scholarly community to a revised corpus of medieval drama running the gamut from liturgical drama to secular comedy.

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