Dr Charlotte Steenbrugge
Room 3.28, Jessop West
Internal extension: 28462
I joined the School of English as Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow in October 2015, starting a project entitled Sceptical Readings of Medieval English Literature. I was previously a Marie Curie Research Fellow at the Universities of Bristol and Toronto, working on the relationship between medieval English drama and sermons. While at Toronto I was actively involved with PLS (http://groups.chass.utoronto.ca/plspls/) and directed the Middle Dutch play Lanseloet van Denemerken. Before going to Canada, I lectured at Bangor University, New College, Oxford, and the University of Southampton. I completed my doctorate at the University of Cambridge in 2009 and my thesis was published as a monograph, Staging Vice: A Study of Dramatic Traditions in Medieval and Sixteenth-Century England and the Low Countries, by Brill/Rodopi in 2014.
My main research interest is medieval English drama, but I have done research on early modern theatre, medieval and sixteenth-century Dutch and French drama, and non-dramatic medieval literature. For my current project I aim to show, using historical evidence of religious scepticism in the Middle Ages, that doubts and incredulity have left significant traces in medieval texts, and that to ignore them would be to misconstrue and misunderstand these texts and their society. This study will therefore open up a new avenue of research into well-known medieval texts, transforming not only how we read these texts, but even how we view the Middle Ages.
My previous research project addressed the interrelation between sermons and vernacular drama in late medieval England from a variety of angles in order to provide a thorough, innovative, and comprehensive study. I investigated how sermons and plays were used as media for public learning, how they combine this didactic aim with literary exigencies, and how the plays in particular acquired and reflected a position of authority and whether this brought them in conflict with sermons, the official channel of ecclesiastical instruction. Contrary to widespread assumptions, I argue that drama developed and flourished independent of sermon influence and had considerably different didactic aims to sermons.
My PhD dissertation assessed the importance of negative characters, and especially of the Vice and the sinnekens, for our understanding of medieval and sixteenth-century English and Dutch drama by charting diachronic developments and through synchronic comparisons. The analysis of the functions as well as theatrical and meta-theatrical aspects of these characters reveals how these plays were conditioned by their literary and social setting. It sheds invaluable light on the subtly divergent appreciation of the concept of drama in these two regions and on their different use of drama as a didactic tool. In a wider perspective, I also investigated how the plays and their negative characters reflect the changes in the intellectual and religious climate of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.
Edited Journal Issues
Articles and Chapters