E 361K • English Drama to 1642
1:00 PM-2:00 PM
In this course we will read some of the best plays written in English prior to, and during, the age of Shakespeare. We will begin with the rich traditions of the medieval theatre, including the well-known "cycle" plays and the genre of dramatic morality still influential to stage and film entertainments today. Our understanding of the medieval tradition will help us examine the ways in which Shakespeare's contemporaries--such playwrights, for instance, as Thomas Kyd, Christopher Marlowe, Ben Jonson, and Thomas Middleton--continued, revised, and otherwise struggled with their dramatic inheritance. Some of the questions we may ask ourselves include the following, among others: What are the "rules" that govern the operations of dramatic genre during this period? That is, what makes a play a "morality," or a "comedy," or a "tragedy"? What makes English Renaissance plays different from plays written a hundred years earlier? What models of psychology, human agency, and the political sphere characterize these plays?
Three 5-7-page essays for a total of no fewer than 16 pages of writing 50%
Class participation (measured in part by pop quizzes) 25%
Plays read in this course may include Mankind, Everyman, The Spanish Tragedy, Doctor Faustus, The Alchemist, The Duchess of Malfi, and The Changeling.