The Project continued work in those areas highlighted in 1996/1997. In particular, Professor King is working on the electronic facsimile edition of the Coventry Mystery Plays, and on the York Cycle and the liturgy; Professor Twycross was busy on an intensive study of the iconography and practics of stage heavens, with particular reference to the York Mercers’ pageant waggon, and pursuing the joint project with the Katholieke Universiteit, Leuven. Both were concerned with continuing research into the iconography and provence of the so-called ‘Bolton Hours’. Further investigations of material in the British Library were made.
Besides the academic research, much of the year's work was devoted to technical matters . The Project team acquired two good-quality flatbed scanners, and Nikon Super Coolscan 35mm-slide scanner, which together with the CD-writers greatly increased productivity and removed the necessity of depending on outside agents for any but the most specialised scanning work. The team also further investigated the operation of various forms of multimedia software and of XML.
After consultation with the university librarians, steps were taken towards the further conservation of the various archives in our care.
We also gave priority to investigating the question of copyright in the various materials we hold. Bird and Bird, Solicitors, kindly gave us permission to reproduce the legal opinion given to E.Martin Browne on the possible repercussions of performing the York Cycle in 1951 in an article on the subject. The prospect of clearing copyright on the entire archive is daunting but must be tackled: it could take several years.
The Project Directors had a heavy programme of conference and other papers .
Several Associates joined the Project during the course of 1997-8:
|Last year Miss Lambourne lent the Project her collection of costume designs for the 1950s York Festival productions of the mystery plays, directed by
E. Martin Browne. During this year the process of scanning and cataloguing continued. In April 1998 Professors Twycross and King and
Miss Bennett met Miss Lambourne in London. She gave us a fascinating account of the production and its personalities, and
described her design strategy, with the deployment of key colours for the various groups of characters, and the engineering
of tonal changes in the different scenes. The team effort involved in making the costumes was impressive, organised by
Mrs Olave Dench (mother of Dame Judi). She recalled the materials of which the costumes were made (pre-Lycra): the white leather skins
used for the body-suits for Adam and Eve inevitably developed saggy bottoms, though Christ's was made of thicker leathe. A local laundry
gave its overnight services free during the run. She also filled in the background: the part played by the British Drama League, and the close-knit
theatrical network of professionals (including Dorothy L. Sayers, Bernard Miles, and Martial Rose) engaged in the production of religious and community drama.|
Helen Bennett was subsequently awarded a British Academy grant for an MA focussing on the electronic catalogue of these designs.
Later in the summer of 1998 the Project Directors saw a perfomance by the Friends of the York Festival in All Saints' Pavement in which some of the original St Mary's Abbey costumes were used.
The Belgian Connection.
|Professor Twycross visited Leuven during the course of this year in pursuit of her researches into the medieval pageantry of
Brabant. The transcription and translation into modern English of the Liber Boonen is now finished: it awaits a
translation into modern Dutch.|
She made contact with the director of the Maerlent Project, which is engaged in producing electronic teaching material on the Middle Ages for Belgian schools and colleges.
In August 1998 she was introduced by Dr. Edward van Ermen to the Leuven City Archives, which turned out to be an unequalled source of information about the ommegang and its history. The information about its origins as a religious procession, its acquisition of costumed characters and then of pageant waggons, throws an unparalleled light on the possible development of the English processional drama.
|The Project was also able to help Dr Latré in his research into the printing history of the Coverdale Bible by electronically comparing scans of several key woodcut illustrations made for him by Cambridge University Library.|
|Professor King continued work towards her joint edition of the Coventry Plays, with visits to the Coventry Record Office and the Coventry Public Library. It was decided to add Sharp’s printed editions of both the Weavers’ and the Shearmen and Tailors' plays to the CD. The Coventry City Library Local Studies Room holds a variety of Sharp’s antiquarian material, including an engraved portrait.|
Pamela M. King ‘Corpus Christi Plays and the “Bolton Hours” I: Tastes in Lay Piety and Patronage in Fifteenth-Century York’ Medieval English Theatre 18 (1997 for 1996) 46-62;
Pamela M. King ‘Calendar and Text: Christ's Ministry in the York Plays and the Liturgy’ Medium Ævum 67 (1998) 30-59;
Meg Twycross ‘Kissing Cousins: The Four Daughters of God and the Visitation in the N. Town Mary Play’ Medieval English Theatre 18 (1997 for 1996) 99-141;
Meg Twycross ‘Some Aliens in York and their Overseas Connections: up to c.1470’ Leeds Studies in English NS 29 (1998).
Pamela M. King and Meg Twycross ‘The York Doomsday Project: an electronic presentation’ (London Medieval History Seminar, December, 1997);
Pamela M. King ‘Marketing the New Jerusalem’ (Public Lecture, ‘The Word on the Streets’, University of York, June 1998);
Meg Twycross ‘Women? What Women?’ - a riposte to Jeremy Goldberg (‘The Word on the Streets’, University of York, June 1998);
Pamela M. King ‘Hearing and Seeing’ (Conference on the York Cycle, University of Toronto, July 1998);
Meg Twycross ‘End-on or Side-on?’ (Conference on the York Cycle, University of Toronto, July 1998).
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