This course will place the drama of Shakespeare and his contemporaries in the context of early modern print culture and the question of popularity. Which plays were popular and how do we know? How does popularity gauged as economic success relate to "popular culture," and how do we theorize each of those terms? We will read some of the most popular printed plays of the period--including one or two Shakespeare plays, and several non-Shakespearen plays that are now less well known, if not forgotten, but were best-sellers then. We will consider these plays alongside versions of their subjects in other print forms, including ballads, prose romances, and chapbooks; and theoretical readings on popularity from economic, book historical, and cultural studies perspectives. Readings might include: Shakespeare and Wilkins's Pericles and Wilkins's The Painful Adventures of Pericles, Dekker's The Shoemaker's Holiday and Thomas Deloney's The Gentle Craft; Beaumont and Fletcher's Philaster, political pamphleteering, and the anonymous interregnum tragedy Charles I; Mucedorus and Sidney's Arcadia; and others.
Undergraduates are prohibited from registering for this course as the instructor has requested that this course be limited to only PhD students.