Summary: Art and literature have always been at the centre of my interest in the Middle Ages; the history of the English language; local history
My first appointment after doing research at the University College of North Staffordshire (later Keele University), was in 1961 at the University of Adelaide, South Australia. In 1969, I was appointed to a lectureship in English Language and Medieval Literature in Leeds and was made Professor of Medieval Drama in 1994.
Art and literature have always been at the centre of my interest in the Middle Ages, and they very early combined in the drama, in both a scholarly and a practical way. Hence my long association with the Workshop Theatre at Leeds. My first productions were in Adelaide in the early 1960s and my last was Everyman (a Workshop Theatre production) in Camerino and at the International Medieval Congress in Leeds in 1998.
The historical investigation of acting styles has been a continuing thread - again both practically and theoretically. I was involved in the production of the York Cycle of Mystery Plays at Leeds in 1975, of Towneley at Wakefield in 1980 and Chester at Leeds in 1983, as well as with the planning of the N.Town Cycle at Toronto in 1988.
In 1976 I was invited to join the Executive Board of Records of Early English Drama, the Toronto-based survey of drama records before 1642, and in 1979 Meg Twycross invited me to join with her in the foundation of the journal Medieval English Theatre. The Société Internationale pour l'Étude du Théâtre Médiéval (SITM) began in Leeds in 1974 with the Colloquium organised by Dr L.R.Muir through what was then the Graduate Centre for Medieval Studies. I was Deputy Director and later Director of the Centre for Medieval Studies for a number of years, and the President of SITM, 1995-8. I retired in 1998.
Besides the drama, I have had a long-standing interest in the history of the English language - my main teaching commitment for many years. With my colleague at Leeds, Elizabeth Williams, I also taught a course on Children's Literature. For all my time at Leeds, I was associated closely with the journal Leeds Studies in English.
To these various on-going research interests, I have now added local history. I am at present Honorary Librarian of the Thoresby Society, the Leeds Local History Society.