In this seminar, we will read a variety of key plays from the so-called “Golden Age” of drama in England. They include the work of well known authors such as Christopher Marlowe, Ben Jonson, and William Shakespeare, as well as lesser known ones such as Elizabeth Cary and Richard Brome. They range across different genres –comedy, tragedy, history, tragicomedy and romance, and were all either enormously popular in their own day, or are crucial to our understanding the period. These plays allow us to explore several issues that were controversial during that time, and remain so today, such as authority and rebellion, sexual and gendered identities and relationships, race, religion and geography.
While we try and understand the world in which they were produced, as well as how they shaped that world, I encourage students to think about the resonance of these plays in our own time. At least one class assignment includes producing a modern version of a Renaissance play.
Most likely we will read the following plays: Marlowe, Doctor Faustus; John Lyly Gallathea; Ben Jonson, Volpone; Middleton and Dekker, The Roaring Girl; Middleton and Rowley, The Changeling; Elizabeth Cary, The Tragedy of Miriam; Shakespeare, The Tempest; Webster, The White Devil; Ford, Tis Pity She’s a Whore; and Richard Brome, The Antipodes.
Assignments include two oral class presentations, one mid-term paper and final paper.