E 379N • Shakespeare and Marlowe
3:30 PM-5:00 PM
Shakespeare and Marlowe has two main purposes. The first is to familiarize the class with the early works of William Shakespeare and the drama of Christopher Marlowe. We will study three plays and a long poem from each writer. In each case we will consider the authors' distinguishing characteristics: their use of poetic language and mythology, their creation and confusion of genres, their submission or challenge to the dominant religious and political ideologies of Elizabethan England.
Which leads us to the second purpose. The course might also be called "Shakespeare and Marlowe in the early 1590s," because we will attempt to understand the history of this period as the two writers engage it. Thus, we will also read some biographical, religious, and political material that can help us decide how Marlowe and Shakespeare conversed with the age, and how they helped shape the consciousness of late Elizabethan England.
The course will have a slightly unusual structure. The first ten weeks or so will be a traditional course. The final month of the class will be in the form of a pedagogical game (on the model of the "Reacting to the Past" series) in which the class is divided between advocates for Marlowe or for Shakespeare. During the game, students will still be writing and performing textual explication, but will also be performing as characters from the time period. The course will culminate with students performing in scenes from the plays.
Longer essays 30%
Short response papers 25%
Class participation and performance in the game 15%
Shakespeare: Richard III, Titus Andronicus, Merchant of Venice, Rape of Lucrece
Marlowe: Jew of Malta, Edward II, Dr. Faustus, Hero and Leander
Biographies of Shakespeare and Marlowe, studies of Elizabethan political and religious history, and selected criticism about early modern drama.