Engaging with Twentieth-Century Pageants: Performance and Study

Date / time: 17 June, 10:00 am - 5:00 pm

Engaging with Twentieth-Century Pageants: Performance and Study

One-day conference: Engaging with Twentieth-Century Pageants: Performance and Study Monday, 17 June 2019, St Andrews

Twentieth-century pageants were vibrant and colourful representations of popular culture. Hundreds of pageants – many involving thousands of participants – took place all over Britain in the first half of the twentieth century. The rich combination of story, history, and legend attracted incredible national attention, but today, the pageant genre remains an understudied topic in modernist scholarship. This conference seeks to develop interdisciplinary methodologies through observing pageant materials and hearing pageant texts and music in performance. A special presentation at the St Andrews Martyr’s Kirk Special Collections Library will showcase rare items related to modernist pageant-text writers E. M. Forster, Virginia Woolf, T. S. Eliot, and Charles Williams along with materials from local Scottish pageants. The conference will also feature a performance of music from pageant plays by the composer Martin Shaw and readings from The Rock by T. S. Eliot and Judgement at Chelmsford by Charles Williams. This free 45-minute concert is open to the public, and will take place at 3:15pm at St Leonard’s Chapel. Invited speakers include Prof. Paul Readman (King’s College London) and Dr Angela Bartie (U. of Edinburgh). The conference is generously supported by grants from the School of English Modern and Contemporary Research Group and from CAPOD GRADskills.

Location: Kennedy Hall, School of English, University of St Andrews, The Scores, St Andrews, Fife KY16 9AZ


  • 10:00 Check in (with tea and coffee)
  • 10:30 Welcome
  • 10:45 Keynote Address from Professor Paul Readman (King’s College London) ‘Historical Pageants in Britain, 1905-2020, Community and the Performance of the Past’
  • 11:45 Historical Pageant Materials Exhibition at the University Special Collections Martyr’s Kirk Library
  • 12:30 Catered Lunch
  • 13:45 Panel: Modernist Writers and the Pageant Genre in Novels and Poetry: Virginia Woolf, Charles Williams, and W. H. Auden; Josh Phillips (University of Glasgow) Tom Poynor (University of St Andrews) Isobel Montgomery Campbell (Martin Shaw Trust)
  • 15:15 Free Public Concert of Martin Shaw’s Pageant Play Music at the St Leonard’s Chapel
  • 16:10 Round Table Discussion: Dr Angela Bartie (University of Edinburgh) Parker T. Gordon (University of St Andrews)
  • 16:50 Closing Remarks: Professor Paul Readman (King’s College London), and Dr Angela Bartie (University of Edinburgh) are both researchers for the pageant database The Redress of the Past: http://www.historicalpageants.ac.uk

Register at https://onlineshop.st-andrews.ac.uk/product-catalogue/event-bookings/english/engaging-with-twentiethcentury-pageants-performance-and-study by 10 June (includes lunch). No registration necessary for attending the concert. More details available at the conference webpage: https://20thcentpageants.wordpress.com

Conference organiser: Parker T. Gordon (pg58@st-andrews.ac.uk)