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Medieval and Renaissance Drama
This prospective full-year course has not yet been offered.
Course Description and Goals
This course is an introduction to English drama from the Middle Ages to the civil war. We will read major playwrights like Marlowe, Webster, and Jonson alongside lesser-known authors like Elizabeth Cary and Anthony Munday. Our readings are roughly chronological, but follow the contours of themes these texts explore: ambition, resistance, vengeance, and reconciliation. We will pay special attention to the discourses of mourning; of literary rivalries; of institutional power; and of civic life. By the end of this course, you will be familiar with the history of English drama from the fourteenth to the early seventeenth centuries. You will appreciate the histories of genres, and the role of drama in cultural history. You will develop techniques for reading and annotating drama (as 'written performance'), and for writing critically about your perceptions of texts and the issues informing them.
Classes will include both lectures and student presentations, with ample opportunity for class discussion.
This course is intended for second- or third-year undergraduates. There are no prerequisites, though the department's introductory survey course will help you situate these texts in literary history.
This course complements other drama courses offered by the department, including Shakespeare; Restoration and Eighteenth-Century Drama [see my syllabus]; and Modern Drama.
Marks in this course will be calculated as follows:
For help with writing, time management, and avoiding plagiarism, consult my guide to Effective Critical Writing.
Some readings will also be available online. I will acquaint you with the course web page, and with online resources for research and class presentations.
Course Calendar (2 terms; 26 weeks)
Locations of texts are in [brackets]. (See Required Texts, above.)
Forms and development of English drama
Reading and annotating dramatic texts
The Creation, and the Fall of Lucifer (York Cycle) [online]
The Second Shepherds' Play (Towneley Cycle) [Kinney]
Noah (Chester Cycle) [Kinney]
Selections from John Nichols' Progresses, Entertainments, and Pageants of Queen Elizabeth I (2007): entertainments at Elvetham, Woodstock, and Kenilworth [reader]
John Bale, King Johan (excerpts) [reader]; Thomas Norton and Thomas Sackville, Gorboduc (excerpts) [reader]
Christopher Marlowe, Tamburlaine 1 [NM]
Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus [Kinney]
First response paper due
William Shakespeare, The Winter's Tale [Oxford]
George Peele, The Old Wife's Tale [NM]
Elizabeth Cary, The Tragedy of Mariam [Broadview]
During the break, read The Spanish Tragedy.
Thomas Kyd, The Spanish Tragedy [Kinney]
John Webster, The Duchess of Malfi [Kinney]
Middleton or Tourneur, The Revenger's Tragedy [NM]
Second response paper due
Thomas Dekker, The Shoemaker's Holiday [Kinney]
Ben Jonson, The Alchemist [NM]
Excerpts from Robert Greene, Ben Jonson, Thomas Dekker, and Thomas Heywood [reader]
Excerpts from Thomas Lodge, Robert Burton, and John Milton [reader]
John Marston, The Malcontent [Kinney]
Thomas Middleton & William Rowley, The Changeling [Kinney]
Research essay due
Anthony Munday, Triumphs of a Reunited Britannia [Kinney]; Ben Jonson, Masque of Blackness [reader]
Philip Massinger, The Roman Actor [NM]
John Ford, Perkin Warbeck [reader]
Conclusions and Year-end Review