Date of Award

Fall 2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Paul Whitfield White

Second Advisor

Charles S. Ross

Committee Chair

Paul Whitfield White

Committee Member 1

Charles S. Ross

Committee Member 2

Michael Johnston

Committee Member 3

S. Dorsey Armstrong

Committee Member 4

Shaun Hughes


This dissertation contends that guilds-folk in sixteenth-century England made their own changes to the play-texts of civic drama and that these changes remain visible to us in the manuscripts which preserve the plays. Further, it argues that the actors and pageant-makers themselves often made these revisions, rather than the civic or ecclesial authorities traditionally credited for rewriting the pageants. These changes, introduced in production and transferred into the texts, helped keep the plays vibrant and successful throughout most of the sixteenth century and reflect the practical and local concerns of their participants. This work continues the historical investigations into pageant performance carried out by the numerous contributors to the Records of Early English Drama project. These scholars' efforts compiling, studying and publishing guild and city accounts of play production connect the performance of civic drama to the towns and cities wherein the plays were performed. By arguing that actors and pageant masters prepared their texts with the same care that historical records show they took with production and promotion, my dissertation offers a new way to read textual variance in the plays themselves. Read thusly, revisions in the plays clearly record a response to local concerns, economic change, or audience reception.