E 392M • Renaissance Tragedy/Courtly Context
9:30 AM-11:00 AM
This course will offer a survey of Renaissance Tragedy, with an eye to the analytic integration of questions from the overlapping spheres of status, gender, kinship, and service relations, each of which underwent substantial dislocations during the period. We'll seek to test the idea that most or all of these variables are in play at all times; that questions about service relations cannot sensibly be answered without attention to status, gender, and kinship matters, etc.
Such social uncertainties lead to questions like these. Is social rank based on birth or effort? Can it be bought? Stolen? Faked? What sorts of authority go with kinship relations? What obedience is owed to parents? Who should determine marital decisions? How is the different worth of sons and daughters to be calculated? How should dowries work? Are women separate persons (how does "coverture" work)? Are they more than vehicles for securing lineage and inheritance? What might they be entitled to as separate entities? Are unmarried children owned by their parents? What can they call their own? Do men and women have different kinds of friendships? Needs? Obligations? Desires? What should we make of the absence of women actors on the Renaissance stage? -- of the so-called transvestite theater? Why were women's roles played by pre-pubescent boys? Were there "homosexuals" in the Renaissance? Were early modern notions of sexuality significantly different from ours? Was gender always the deciding factor? How could masters and servants feel about each other? How does service differ from employment? From work? What is an apprentice? Were servants happy? Did they love their masters? Mistresses? Do men make different kinds of servants from women? Why does the same word ("service") describe categories of labor and sexuality? How does servant status interact with social rank? How can a duke be a servant? Is a husband master of his wife? Can a queen be married to her country?
Anon., Arden of Faversham
Kyd, The Spanish Tragedy
Marlowe, Doctor Faustus, The Jew of Malta
Shakespeare, Hamlet, Othello, King Lear
Heywood, A Woman Killed with Kindness
Webster, The White Devil, The Duchess of Malfi
Middleton, The Revenger's Tragedy, The Changeling, Women Beware Women
Coser, The Family: Its Structures and Functions
Fletcher, Gender, Sex, and Subordination in England, 1500-1800
Houlbrooke, The English Family 1450-1700
Stone, The Crisis of the Aristocracy
Wrightson, English Society, 1580-1680