Our course takes up English drama from its beginnings through the Tudor period, with the end illuminating the rich dramatic tradition out of which Shakespeare will emerge. We will look at a sampling of early drama, both the ridiculous and the reverent, from the Anglo-Saxon Advent lyrics to the Corpus Christi cycles, to the Plays of Marlowe, Kyd, and others as scripts for theatrical performance and as early modern cultural texts. We will pay particular attention to the evolution of English theater, as it spills out of the church and into public spaces, and ask questions about the seemingly irrepressible cultural impulses that produce popular theater, and about the apparent kinship between religious ritual and theater.
Two essays, two one-page presentations, and a final exam. Course fulfills the language and literature requirement.