Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

Reading the Early Modern Playbook

ENGL 538.301
instructor(s):
M 12-3

 

This course serves a dual function: 1) to introduce students to the theory, practice, and research methods of the history of the book and the history of reading as fields of study; and 2) to show why and how these histories matter to us as literary critics.  We will hone our skills in these fields through practice using research tools and methods, and through short exercises dealing with the three important stages in the life of a book: the process of physical production; publishing and the marketing of books; and the reading of books.  We will put these skills to the test by reading early modern plays in facsimiles of their original editions or in the rare book library, likely including Shakespeare's Hamlet (Q1), Thomas Dekker's The Shoemaker's Holiday, Thomas Tomkis's Lingua, Thomas Heywood's 1 & 2 If You Know Not Me, You Know Nobody, Middleton and Dekker's The Roaring Girl, and others. The central question throughout will be: how do our understandings of these plays change when we consider them as playbooks?