L308 1965 LINTON
Early English Drama

2:30p-3:45p TR (30) 3 cr.

Like movies today, the public theater was a popular cultural form in early modern England. The plays from this period appealed to a socially diverse audience, speaking to the imagination, desires, fears, and anxieties of a society in the midst of important economic, social, and political changes. The plays addressed changing conceptions of kingship and the nation, love and marriage, loyalty and enterprise, in the face of an emerging market economy, the rapid growth of London as a major urban center, dynastic shift, colonialist expansion, etc.

In reading a number of plays from the Elizabethan and Jacobean eras, we will explore the ways in which theater provided a fictive space both for making sense of the world and for experimenting with new social contracts, alliances, and identities. We will examine how different genres--city comedy, history, domestic and revenge tragedies--provided different strategies for doing so. In particular, we will focus on the new "agents" that emerge in the plays and what their successes and failures tell us about the cultural values and assumptions of the period. To the extent that some of the issues treated in these plays are still relevant today, we will also use them to reflect on our own cultural values and assumptions.

Primary texts may include Dekker's The Shoemaker's Holiday, Jonson's Epicoene, Marlowe's Edward II, Tourneur's The Revenger's Tragedy, Middleton's The Roaring Girl, Middleton and Rowley's The Changeling, Webster's The Duchess of Malfi, and Chapman's The Memorable Masque. Secondary readings will be provided in a course reader. In addition to class discussions, students are responsible for a presentation on an inquiry topic or participation in a performance of scenes from a play. Written work includes one-page reading responses for each play, a final exam, and two essays.