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Martin Kevorkian, Chair CAL 226, Mailcode B5000, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4991

Fall 2005

E 379S • Senior Seminar (ADDED)

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
33545 TTh
8:00 AM-9:30 AM
PAR 105

Course Description

This seminar will offer a detailed examination of Renaissance tragedy in its social and historical context. Crises in early modern status, gender, kinship, and service relations led to a widespread sense of courtly corruption. English men and women would have recognized several zones of this corruption:

(1) Social mobility (into and within the ruling elite).
(2) The conduct of rule: ascribed and achieved power/authority; rule by birth/bloodline and conquest/bloodshed.
(3) "Others" (defined via status, gender, race, generation, and service categories).
(4) Distortions of sexual and social reproduction through transgressive sexuality.

These problems all come into play in the special arena of treason. Most of the plays exhibit some, often many, treasonable acts. We will thus explore them through the lens of treason, examining the basic Tudor treason statutes (extended to sexual crime by Henry VIII) and the famous Frances Howard case (1613-16) as counterpoints to the drama. (Other historical materials may be introduced when appropriate.)

Grading Policy

Regular attendance and seminar participation (20%)
Two 7-page papers, both with required drafts (40% each)

Each paper must go through a mandatory drafting process, with topic approval, drafts then handed in, and be critiqued (by the professor and by a peer), revised, and developed. Both papers must deal seriously with both literary and historical materials.


Marlowe, The Jew of Malta, Doctor Faustus
Kyd, The Spanish Tragedy
Shakespeare, Hamlet, Othello
Jonson, Sejanus
Webster, The White Devil, The Duchess of Malfi
Middleton, The Revenger's Tragedy, The Changeling, Women Beware Women
Cobbett/Howell, State Trials, Frances Howard divorce trial, Overbury murder trial (packet)


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