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Topics in Renaissance Literature: Poems vs. Plays

ENGL 231.301
TR 9-10:30

What is the difference between a poem that tells a story and a play that enacts a plot?  For Aristotle, the distinction would have been quite basic.  But in the early modern period, it is not quite so obvious.  Playwrights wrote poems and poets wrote plays.   Poems contain dramatic elements and plays, written in verse, incorporate poetic set pieces.  This course will be reading poems and plays together in order to explore what difference genre makes.   Though Shakespeare will be our focus (Sonnets, Venus and Adonis, Rape of Lucrece, Midsummer Night’s Dream, Titus Andronicus), we will be looking at two other writers of the English Renaissance who were both poets and playwrights: Christopher Marlowe (Hero and Leander, Tamburlaine the Great, Dr. Faustus) and Ben Jonson (Epigrams, “On the Famous Voyage,” The Alchemist, Volpone, Poetaster).  Three papers will be required (one on each author).

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