In 1593, after a brief period of having taken the stage by storm, Christopher Marlowe was stabbed to death. Shakespeare at that time was just beginning his dramatic career under the shadow of this dazzling and daring predecessor. A number of Shakespeare’s works invite comparison with Marlowe’s, and we will be reading six such pairings in order to ask: What kind of poetry, action, spectacle, and sheer noise did each playwright put on stage? How far did each push the boundaries of impersonation and representation? What kind of desires and expectations did they target in the audience? Where are they imitating the ancients and where are they introducing novelty? We will be exploring these questions through a range of shared topics: conquest (romantic and imperial), conscience (good and evil), faith (Christianity vs. Islam), ambition (for knowledge, power, fame), and desire (especially in their epyllia or erotically charged narrative poems).
Syllabus will include the following pairings:
Dido, Queen of Carthage and The Tempest
Tamburlaine, part 1 and part 2 and Anthony and Cleopatra
The Jew of Malta and Merchant of Venice
Doctor Faustus and Macbeth
Edward II (c.1592) and Richard II
Hero and Leander and Venus and Adonis
Requirements: two papers (8-10 pages), occasional class presentations and exercises (both short).