Skip to main content

EN353 Early Modern Drama

Information for 2018/19 if you are interested in applying for this module.

This module will be taught in Autumn 2018 by Carol Rutter and delivered by one 1.5 hour seminar per week, consisting of a mini-lecture followed by seminar discussion of the week's play text. Students should sigh up for one seminar slot. Seminars will be offered on Mondays, 10.00 - 11.30 and Tuesdays 2.00 - 3.30.

Weekly reading:
1. Thomas Kyd, The Spanish Tragedy
2. Robert Greene, Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay
3. Christopher Marlowe, Dr. Faustus
4. Anonymous, Arden of Faversham
5. Ben Jonson, Volpone
7. John Fletcher, The Woman's Prize
8. Middleton and Dekker, The Roaring Girl
9. Middleton and Rowley, The Changeling
10. John Webster, The Duchess of Malfi

The first seminar will be in Week 1 of Autumn Term.
A link to further week by week reading will be notified in September. Over the summer, students should concentrate on reading the play texts. The course book for this module is English Renaissance Drama: A Norton Anthology, edited by David Bevington, Lars Engle, Katharine Eisaman Maus and Eric Rasmussen.



Module Convenor: Dr Teresa Grant

This is a Pathway Approved Option for the English Pathway and one of the Distributional Requirement options for the Theory, World and North American Pathways.

2017-18: One weekly 1-hour lecture (Monday 11am-12pm, R1.13) and one 1-hour seminar on Mondays. Rooms to be confirmed.

Seminar Times:

Monday 2-3pm

Monday 3-4pm

Wednesday 10-11am


This one-term module can be paired with EN352 Restoration Drama to make a coherent two-term option on English drama and its contexts 1574-1709, but students are welcome to pair it with any other 15 CATS module as they wish. In term 2, I also teach EN360 Ben Jonson in Context, which looks in depth at one of the playwrights on this module and for which EN353 can be used as a prerequisite.

Students will be expected to contribute regularly to seminar discussions.

This module explores the drama of Shakespeare's contemporaries, in the golden age of English theatre. It will 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. 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.

It is my intention to initiate conversations with other modules as well as between the texts. I have chosen the texts with a view to building on common ground, especially with EN301 Shakespeare and Selected Dramatists of His Time, EN302 European Theatre, EN228 Seventeenth Century. It is also my hope that our focus on early modern literary and dramatic criticism will interact usefully with modules whose focus is on critical theory, providing some historical examples of the theoretical treatment of literary and theatrical texts. But students not taking any of these courses need not worry -- part of the seminar experience is learning from your compatriots, so you will gain from their knowledge just as they will from your different stock of expertise.


Week 1, Robert Green, Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay (c.1589);
Week 2, Anon., Arden of Feversham (1592);
Week 3, Thomas Dekker, The Shoemaker's Holiday (1599);
Week 4, John Marston, The Malcontent (c. 1603);
Week 5, Thomas Middleton, The Revenger's Tragedy (1606);
Week 6, Reading Week
Week 7, Ben Jonson, Volpone (1606),
Week 8, Francis Beaumont, The Knight of the Burning Pestle (1607);
Week 9, John Webster, The Duchess of Malfi (1613),
Week 10, 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). All the set plays are in this volume.

Further Reading

Each week there will be short additional readings to help you understand the play in its context. These are generally sourced from e-books available via the library website, or scanned and made available via the library's module extracts page. Click here to download a file of the week by week reading.

Here are some more suggestions for further reading. Starred items are particularly recommended.

G.E. Bentley, The Jacobean and Caroline Stage (7 vols.; Oxford, 1941)
E.K. Chambers, The Elizabethan Stage (4 vols.; Oxford, 1923, repr. 2009)
Brian Gibbons, Jacobean City Comedy (2nd ed., Methuen, 1980)
*Andrew Gurr, The Shakespearean Stage 1574-1642 (4th ed.; Cambridge, 2009)
Lisa Jardine, Still Harping on Daughters (2nd ed., Brighton: Harvester, 1989)
John Kerrigan, Revenge Tragedy (Oxford, 1996)
Brian Vickers (ed.), English Renaissance Literary Criticism (Oxford, 2003)
*Peter Womack, English Renaissance Drama (Oxford: Blackwell, 2006)

Ebooks (via Warwick University Library)
A. R. Braunmuller and Michael Hattaway, The Cambridge Companion to English Renaissance Drama (2nd ed.; Cambridge, 2003)
*Arthur Kinney (ed.), A Companion to Renaissance Drama (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2002)
Michael Hattaway (ed.), A Companion to Renaissance Literature and Culture (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2003)
Emma Smith (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to English Renaissance Tragedy (Cambridge, 2010)


Students will write a 3000-word essay (50%) and take a 1hr exam (50%). Essays will be on topics to be agreed with the module convenor.