Shakespeare in Love gives us a 20th-century pop culture vision of theatre and life in early modern England. But how were the plays of Shakespeare's contemporaries actually performed, and how did Renaissance pop culture influence those performances? This course will read Renaissance plays in the context of popular traditions that were to varying degrees "theatrical." We will examine the nuts and bolts of how plays were originally performed (costumes, props, staging, etc.) as well as performative cultural phenomena such as medieval religious rituals, May Games and midwinter festivals, popular songs and dances, royal processions, public executions, and animal baiting.
Requirements may include an oral presentation, regular short response papers, a longer paper about one particular play, and a final project which investigates some particular performance tradition. Active class participation is a must.