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Girton Fellow, Dr James Wade, discovers rare material on medieval comedy in Heege Manuscript

Dr James Wade holding the Heege Manuscript (credit: University of Cambridge)

Dr James Wade, the Jane Elizabeth Martin Official Fellow in English, College Teaching Officer, and Director of Studies, has published an article in The Review of English Studies that identifies an unprecedented record of live performance comedy from the fifteenth century.

The manuscript contains extremely rare forms of medieval literature – mocking kings, priests and peasants; encouraging audiences to get drunk; and shocking them with slapstick. The discovery sheds new light on Britain’s famous sense of humour and the role played by minstrels in medieval society. It changes the way we should think about English comic culture between Chaucer and Shakespeare.

Dr Wade's research has been picked up by over 600 media outlets worldwide!


Information for Editors:

About Girton College, University of Cambridge

Girton College, University of Cambridge, was founded in 1869 as the first UK residential institution for the higher education of women. It was the first women’s college to become co-educational over 40 years ago and remains committed to the founding principle of inclusive excellence.

Girton has always set the pace on matters of equality and inclusion and continues to prioritise widening participation, alongside academic achievement and all-round personal development for students and staff alike.

Girton is one of the larger colleges at the University of Cambridge, admitting students in almost every subject. There are currently around 550 undergraduates, 420 postgraduates, 138 Fellows and 29 Honorary Fellows.

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Hannah Sargent, Communications Officer:
Girton College, University of Cambridge


Image credits:

University of Cambridge: Dr James Wade
National Library of Scotland: Heege Manuscript
Mike Capozzola: Here for a Fortnight cartoon in response to Dr Wade's article