2007 Johnston Award for Best Conference Paper

Alexandra Johnston Award
Award Year: 

Winner: Lee, Christopher. "Jews as Didactic Instruments." New Medievalism II conference, University of Western Ontario, March 2005.

Lee's paper, "Jews as Didactic Instruments," argues that medieval playmakers employed Jewish characters to instruct their audiences about proper semiotic interpretation, particularly on how spectators ought to arrive at Christian truth. In the process, the dramatists also explored the pedagogical effectiveness of their own dramatic signs. His analyses of the Jeu d'Adam and the Benediktbeuern play offer real interpretive power, as he argues for the connection of belief to learning in the Anglo-Norman play, and he extends this insight in his reading of the Benediktbeuern Christmas Play, seeing the debate between Archisynagogus and the Prophets as "a parody of the interreligious debate format and the scholastic methods of instruction." All the judges were impressed by the way his paper covered a broad swathe of medieval drama and seemed to add something genuinely new to the often narrow discussion of anti-Semitism in medieval drama. While all the nominees were excellent in their distinct ways, Mr. Lee's piece was notable in the way it managed to be theoretically sophisticated without being jargon bound, and also in the manner it applied its analytic perspective to a diverse group of plays.

Awards announcement and presentation took place during the annual MRDS business meeting in May at the International Congress on Medieval Studies, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan.