Renaissance Literature: Shakespeare's Rivals, Collaborators, and Contemporaries
Most people have never read a play from Renaissance England by anyone other than Shakespeare, but the Bard was joined by a host of other great playwrights in one of the most exciting periods of English literary and theatrical history. As numerous theaters suddenly popped up around London in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, the stages were filled with tragedies, comedies, histories, romances, and tragicomedies. This course will survey some of the plays written by Shakespeare's rivals, influences, followers, and collaborators, including Christopher Marlowe, Ben Jonson, John Fletcher, and the ever-popular author, Anonymous, among others. Our focus will be on the structure and language of the plays, their dramatic form and genres, and their relations to the pressing issues and questions of the time. No previous experience with Shakespeare or Renaissance drama is required.