2007 Stevens Award for Best New Essay

Martin Stevens Award
Award Year: 

Winner: Noah D. Guynn, "A Justice to Come: The Role of Ethics in La Farce de Maistre Pierre Pathelin." Theatre Survey 47, no. 1 (2006): 13–31.

In a deft new reading of the beloved medieval Farce de Maistre Pierre Pathelin, Noah Guynn brings together two disciplines that should never have been separated: ethics and theatre studies. Beyond offering an unprecedented synthesis of aspects of the play that have long resisted critical analysis (from Pathelin's celebrated linguistic delirium, to the legal delirium of the courtroom, to the frustratingly ambiguous ending of the play), he argues eloquently that "Farce is a highly unstable, parodic, and self-parodic genre that affirms the possibility of a more ethical and just future precisely by disrupting the conventional language of moral and legal reckoning." As he moves beyond the persistent polarities of Augustinian caritas vs. concupiscientia and learned vs. popular culture, Guynn thus demonstrates the true meaning of the critical commonplace that humor is transgressive, all the while situating such humor within the ethical world of agency from which theatre itself is never immune.

Citation by Jody Enders. 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.