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January 24, 2023 @ 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Join us for a dialogue between Jody Enders (French and Italian) and Leo Cabranes-Grant (Spanish and Portuguese, Theater and Dance) about Enders’ two new edited and translated volumes of medieval French comedies. Refreshments will be served.
Trial by Farce: A Dozen Medieval French Comedies in Modern English (University of Michigan Press, 2023)
In Trial by Farce, prize-winning theater historian Jody Enders brings twelve of the funniest legal farces to English-speaking audiences in a refreshingly uncensored but philologically faithful vernacular. Newly conceived as much for scholars as for students and theater practitioners, this repertoire and its familiar stock characters come vividly to life as they struggle to negotiate the limits of power, politics, class, gender, and, above all, justice. Through the distinctive blend of wit, social critique, and breathless boisterousness that is farce, we gain a new understanding of comedy itself as form of political correction. In ways presciently modern and even postmodern, farce paints a different cultural picture of the notoriously authoritarian Middle Ages with its own vision of liberty and justice for all. Theater eternally offers ways for new generations to raise their voices and act.
Immaculate Deception and Further Ribaldries: Yet Another Dozen Medieval French Plays in Modern English (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2022)
In the sacrilegious world of Immaculate Deception, the third volume in a series of stage-friendly translations from the Middle French, twelve engagingly funny satires target religious hypocrisy in that in-your-face way that only true slapstick can muster. There is literally nothing sacred. Why this repertoire and why now? The current political climate has had dire consequences for the pleasures of satire at a cultural moment when we have never needed it more. It turns out that the proverbial Dark Ages had a lighter side; and France’s over 200 rollicking, frolicking, singing, and dancing comedies—more extant than in any other vernacular—have waited long enough for their moment in the spotlight. They are seriously funny: funny enough to reclaim their place in cultural history, and serious enough to participate in the larger conversation about what it means to be a social influencer, then and now. Rather than relegate medieval texts to the dustbin of history, an unabashedly feminist translation can reframe and reject the sexism of bygone days by doing what theater always invites us to do: interpret, inflect, and adapt.
Jody Enders is Distinguished Professor of French at UC Santa Barbara and Director of The Public Speaking Initiative.
Sponsored by the IHC’s Harry Girvetz Memorial Endowment