We shall study most of Jonson's plays along with a good sample of his court masques and relevant epigrams to see how he shaped his career in an effort to become advisor to the king and moral guide for England. Despite (or perhaps because of) these aspirations, Jonson found himself entangled in quarrels with fellow playwrights and accused of subversion by authorities, accusations that lead to several imprisonments. Consequently, Jonson's works, from his early humor plays (Every Man In His Humor, Every Man Out of His Humor), the war of the theaters (Cynthia's Revels, The Poetaster), to the plays and masques of his major period (Sejanus, Volpone, The Masque of Queens, Epicoene, The Alchemist, Oberon, Bartholemew Fair, The Golden Age Restored, The Devil is an Ass, Pleasure Reconciled to Virtue), and a few Caroline dramas, such as The New Inn, can reveal to us how a major literary talent embodies dominant social and political contradictions as well as the convictions of his times. One short paper (about five pages), one longer paper (about fifteen pages).
Note: Undergraduates may enroll in this course.