The Transnational Impact of Latin Theatre from the Early Modern Netherlands

Workshop: Biblical Drama in Europe from the Middle Ages to the Present Day

Organisers: Dr Dinah Wouters (Amsterdam), Sarah Fengler (Oxford)

Liturgical drama in the Middle Ages starts by adapting the most cherished texts of European culture: Scripture. Once introduced as a common practice of dramatising the Bible, European drama kept producing scriptural plays. While there was a strong German tradition of medieval mystery plays, the history of biblical drama is by no means limited to the German cultural sphere. New formats and modes of biblical drama developed through the centuries and in different language areas: from French mystery plays, humanist sacred comedies and tragedies, Jesuit Bible drama, and Spanish Golden Age autos sacramentales through to neoclassical biblical tragedy, biblical Trauerspiele in the German Empfindsamkeit, and scriptural plays in English Romanticism. Furthermore, there was a rediscovery of the so-called cycle plays during the nineteenth century, and even today biblical narratives are still being staged, from modern and postmodern biblical plays through to Broadway and movies. A large number of writers from various eras debated the question of how Scripture can be dramatised, including Hugo Grotius, Jean Racine, Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock, Voltaire, George Gordon Byron, and Pier Paolo Pasolini, to name but a few.

In this workshop, we want to explore the continuities, (in)consistencies, and break lines in the history of European biblical drama. Our objective is to come closer to a diachronic, transnational, and comparative perspective on biblical drama as a literary genre.


09.00-09.30 Arrival with coffee and tea

09.30-09.45 Opening words


Keynote by Daisy Black (University of Wolverhampton)
Hole-y Bodies: Exploring gender in the textual gaps of medieval and modern biblical drama

10.45-12.15 Panel 1 (chair: Dinah Wouters)

Tovi Bibring (Bar-Ilan University and University of Oxford)
Disciplining Emotions in The Mystery Play, Le mistere du Viel Testament as a Case Study

Cecily Fasham (University of Oxford)
Teaching Faith: Performing Pedagogy in the Jeu d’Adam

M.A. Katritzky (The Open University)
Female religious leaders and the medieval spice-merchant scene

12.30-13.30 Lunch


Keynote by Jan Bloemendal (Huygens Institute, Amsterdam)
The Bible on the Early Modern Stage: A Transnational Approach

14.30-15.30 Panel 2 (chair: Rasmus Vangshardt)

Wim François (KU Leuven)
Biblical Drama and Politically Incorrect Ideas in the Early Modern Netherlands

Francisca Stangel (University of Kent)
Sapientia Solomonis: Transcending national, cultural, and socio-economic borders

15.30-16.00 Break

16.00-17.00 Panel 3 (chair: Jan Bloemendal)

Rasmus Vangshardt (University of Southern Denmark)
Beauty and the Bible in Two Old Testament Plays by Lope de Vega

Sarah Fengler (University of Oxford)
German and Swiss Old Testament Plays in the Eighteenth Century. Klopstock, Lavater, Bodmer

17.00-18.30 Panel 4 (ONLINE) (chair: Tovi Bibring)

Alina Kornienko (Université Paris-VIII-Vincennes-Saint-Denis)
Le paradigme du “fil prodigue” dans l’œuvre de Jean-Luc Lagarce / “Retracing your own footsteps”: the paradigm of the “prodigal son” in the dramatic creation of Jean-Luc Lagarce

Jean-François Poisson-Gueffier (Université Sorbonne-Nouvelle Paris 3)
Create or recreate? Paul Claudel and the Medieval French Biblical Drama

Giampaolo Molisina (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
Pasolini’s Vangelo and the Loss of the Sacred Dimension in Contemporary Man


If you want to register, either to attend the conference in person or to follow the two online presentations, please send an email to and