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EN2F1/EN3F1 Early Modern Drama

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I have been awarded a British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship for 2020-1, so I am on research leave all of next year. This means that both Early Modern and Restoration Drama will not run until 2021-22. Please come and do them then!

Lecture: Monday 11:00-12:00, Seminar: Monday 12:00-1:00. (Term 1) in SO10.

Convenor: Dr Teresa Grant, H516. 

Teaching methods 1 x 1 hour lecture weekly; 1 x 1 hour seminar weekly. These are in SO10, 11-1 on Mondays.

Assessment methods:

Intermediate Year: The module is 50% assessed (a 2000 word essay) and 50% examined (a one-hour examination paper)

Final Year: The module is 50% assessed (a 3000 word essay) and 50% examined (a one-hour examination paper)

EN2/3F1 Early Modern Drama - (15 CATS) – term 1 only

Expect murder, magic and mayhem, and lots of risqué double entendres. In the golden age of English theatre, playwrights other than Shakespeare produced plays which dealt with some of the same themes but in a wide variety of ways. We’ll pay particular attention to the playing conditions of the time which were affected both by the physical resources of the stage and the political context into which these works intervened. We will also take note of early modern literary criticism to discover how playwrights interacted with these ideas in their work – what did they think they were doing? As we read some of the most famous plays of the period, we will develop an understanding of its major dramatic trends, the plays’ significance in relation to Shakespeare and to their classical precursors and the ways in which they reflect the political, religious and social concerns of their time.


This module can be paired with EN2/3F0: Restoration Drama to make a coherent 30 CATS two-term option which will deal with English drama and its contexts 1574 to 1709.

Outline Syllabus

Week 1, Early Comedy: Robert Green, Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay (c.1589)

Week 2, Domestic Tragedy: Anon., Arden of Feversham (1592)

Week 3, Citizen Comedy: Thomas Dekker, The Shoemaker's Holiday (1599)

Week 4, Tragicomedy: John Marston, The Malcontent (c. 1603)

Week 5, Revenge Tragedy: Thomas Middleton, The Revenger's Tragedy (1606)

Week 6, Reading Week

Week 7, Metatheatre: Francis Beaumont, The Knight of the Burning Pestle (1607)

Week 8, Female Tragedy: John Webster, The Duchess of Malfi (1613)

Week 9, City Comedy: Ben Jonson, Bartholomew Fair (1614)

Week 10, Late Comedy: Philip Massinger, A New Way to Pay Old Debts (c. 1625)

The coursebook will be English Renaissance Drama: A Norton Anthology, eds Bevington, Engle, Maus and Rasmussen (New York and London, 2002).