In this class, we will read a variety of plays written by some of Shakespear's predecessors, contemporaries, and successors in all genres, including tragedies, comedies, histories, and some older forms, such as moralities and interludes. Writers will include Robert Greene, Thomas Kyd, Thomas Heywood, Christopher Marlowe, the Countess of Pembroke, Elizabeth Cary, Ben Jonson, John Webster, "Cyril Tourneur," Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher, Thomas Middleton, and John Ford. These writers responded to, and in their own turn affected, a society in the midst of deep and widely-ranging social, religious, and cultural changes that were to eventuate in civil war and revolution. Examination of dramatic language and form, as well as of broad cultural issues, will be focuses of this course. Readings will consist of one to two plays a week with additional critical and historical readings (some required; others, more frequently, recommended). Students will write two short papers and one long final essay for the class.