Dr Clare Wright

Lecturer in Medieval Literature

About

Dr Clare Wright researches medieval drama and performance culture, focusing especially on questions of space, place, and embodiment, and medieval performance paradigms and practices. She also has interests in cross-disciplinary practice-as-research, exploring collaborations between pre-modern scholars and contemporary theatre and creative practitioners. 

She is on the editorial board for the ROMARD, is a council member for the Medieval and Renaissance Drama Society and is the founder member of the Premodern Performance Cultures Network. 

Research interests

Clare's research interests include:

  • Early drama in the British Isles
  • Pre-modern European performance culture and practices (including liturgy, piety and devotion; civic and royal pageantry; games; performance techniques and methods; production contexts; cultural contexts for performance)
  • Medieval tournament culture and performance
  • Medieval courtly literature and culture
  • Intersections between medieval scholarship and contemporary creative arts
  • Space, place and site-specificity
  • The body and the senses; bodily experience; embodied cognition; distributed cognition; kinaesthetic empathy.   

Clare is currently writing a monograph, entitled Morality Play, for the Forms of Drama book series published by Bloomsbury. This volume introduces readers to morality plays, a unique and influential medieval dramatic form, tracking their shifts and changes across premodern Europe and outlining their legacy in the early modern London playhouses and twentieth- and twenty-first-century commercial theatres.
Her current research project focuses on Henry VIII’s Great Westminster Tournament of 1511, the first focused, holistic study of this extraordinary event since Sydney Anglo’s 1968 calotype reproduction of the famous Westminster Tournament Roll. Combining methodologies and theories drawn predominantly from the fields of history and performance studies, the project considers the ‘theatrical’, material, embodied and spatial aspects of the tournament from its inception in January 1511 to its performance in early February that same year. It also explores the practical and logistical concerns of ‘staging’ such an extended, complex, elaborate and important event, aiming to develop a detailed understanding of the role of this tournament in the construction of Henry’s identity as king, of England as a nation in relation to its European neighbours, and the importance of embodied performance and practice in both these processes. It also assesses the place of the tournament form in theatre and performance history, and how these spectacular events might have overlapped with or even influenced other performance modes and practices, including in the early modern commercial theatres.

Clare’s essays on medieval drama have appeared in Theatre Survey, Shakespeare Bulletin, Medieval English Theatre, and The Oxford Handbook of Tudor Drama, and she has designed and led a number of public performance workshops and events. 

From 2016-2019 she was Chair of the Medieval English Theatre Society and in 2013, she established the Premodern Performance Cultures Network for postdoctoral and early career researchers.

Supervision

Clare welcomes proposals from students interested in any area of medieval and early modern British drama; European performance culture more broadly; Middle English and Older Scots literature; and interdisciplinary, cross-period or creative projects.

Professional

  • Chair 2016-2019, Medieval English Theatre Society
  • Academic Consultant, ‘Before Shakespeare: The Beginnings of London Commercial Theatre, 1565-1595’ project, led by Dr Andy Kesson at Roehampton (AHRC-Funded).
  • Founder, Chair 2013-2017, Early English Drama and Performance Network
  • Essay Prize Chair 2016/17, Medieval and Renaissance Drama Society Martin Stevens Essay Prize
  • Committee Member, Medieval and Renaissance Drama Society; Medieval English Theatre Society; Early English Drama and Performance Network. 
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