Risk and Risk Management, Resistance and Disguise in Medieval French Farce


ACLS Fellowship Program


French and Italian


This project deploys the methods of cultural studies and critical theory to reassess the social significance of medieval French farce. Inspired by work on the experimental, dialogical nature of medieval drama and by cultural theories that locate resistance in normative forms of popular culture, the project argues that farce’s superficial predictability and conformity belie the complexities of its performance practices and modes of reception. It focuses attention on overlooked and occluded social content, claiming, first, that vulgar, clichéd, seemingly gratuitous jokes conceal probing, multifaceted perspectives on ethics, religion, politics, and economics; and, second, that this concealed content is obscured precisely because it entails individual and collective risks of various kinds.