In this course we will read plays from the Elizabethan and Jacobean periods in order to explore the early modern fascination with altered mental states, cathartic violence, carnivalesque laughter, and theatrical spectacle. In addition to situating the plays we read within their socio-political context, we will be thinking about the economics and physical space of the early modern theater. Our readings will include plays by Kyd, Marlowe, Shakespeare, Jonson, and Webster as well as supplementary theoretical and philosophical texts. Our study of these authors will be driven by questions concerning the free will of the individual, memory and the act of mourning, gender identity, and the performance of the self.
Course requirements include careful reading, active participation, attendance of film screenings, and a research paper. There will be no final exam.