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Shakespeare and Selected Dramatists

Information for 2021-2022

Come to the Teams module meeting on Monday 8th March at 3.30 pm to find out more.

The module will be available to both second year and finalist students next year.

Convenors: Dr Paul Botley (T1) and Dr Teresa Grant (T2)

Teaching methods

1 x 1 hour lecture weekly (Monday at 2); 1 x 1.5 hour seminar weekly

Module Description

We will survey a wide range of early modern plays by Shakespeare and some of his most significant contemporaries such as, typically, Marlowe, Middleton and Webster. We'll explore the ways in which some of the major issues and themes dramatised in Shakespeare’s plays – for instance, love, war, sexuality, religion, law, race – function in an early modern context while continuing to challenge readers and spectators today. We'll read Shakespeare alongside other plays which compare and contrast in their treatment of these themes, to consider what is both typical and special about his work in its context. We'll consider how Shakespeare’s career developed (from early to late comedy, through history and tragedy) and investigate how later collaborators (directors, actors, adapters, audiences and readers) transformed the plays to be especially meaningful for them.


Module aims

The module aims are to read and analyse a wide range of Shakespeare's plays in different genres and periods of his career and the plays of selected other near-contemporary dramatists, so as to compare and contrast Shakespearean and non-Shakespearean early modern drama. Students will critically analyse the plays: as literature; as texts for performance; and in their historical contexts (religious, social and political). You will also gain an understanding of a wide range of critical responses to Shakespeare and early modern drama and evaluate some of these in depth in your assessments.

Learning outcomes and Assessments

Level 5 (Y2)

Level 6 (Y3)

Outline Syllabus

UNIT 1 (Weeks 1-5, Autumn Term): EARLY PLAYS Shakespeare: The Merchant of Venice, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Twelfth Night. Marlowe: The Jew of Malta. Lyly: Galatea

UNIT 2 (weeks 7-10, Autumn Term): KINDS OF HISTORY Shakespeare: Richard II, 1 Henry VI, Richard III, Coriolanus. Marlowe: Edward II

UNIT 3 (weeks 1-5, Spring Term): TRAGEDIES Shakespeare: Hamlet; King Lear; Othello; Macbeth. Webster: The Duchess of Malfi and The White Devil

UNIT 4 (weeks 7-10, Spring Term) COMEDIES Shakespeare: Measure for Measure; The Tempest; The Winter's Tale. Middleton: A Chaste Maid in Cheapside

Reading list

Essential Primary texts (to buy, ideally):

Lyly, John. Galatea. Edited by Leah Scragg. Revels Student Editions. (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2012).

Marlowe, Christopher. Tamburlaine, parts I and II: Doctor Faustus, A- and B-texts ; The Jew of Malta ; Edward II. Edited by David M. Bevington and Eric Rasmussen. Oxford World's Classics. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008).

Shakespeare, William. The Norton Shakespeare. Third edition. Edited by S. Greenblatt et al. (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2016).

Webster, John. The White Devil ; the Duchess of Malfi ; The Devil's Law-Case ; A Cure for a Cuckold. Edited by René Weis. Oxford World's Classics. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009).

You may wish to purchase this book too if you want a print copy, but it is available via the University Library on Drama Online: Middleton, Thomas. A Chaste Maid in Cheapside. Edited by Alan Brissenden. New Mermaids. (London: Bloomsbury, 2002).

Secondary Reading can be found via the TalisAspire link which will be updated over the summer. Please note that the primary texts for next year are not the same as the current TalisAspire list so things marked essential there are not necessarily essential for 2021-2. See above for essential primary texts for this coming year.

Summer Reading Please note that it is our expectation that students will return after the summer having read the 6 non-Shakespearean plays and made a good start on Shakespeare. There are three weeks during term where you will be expected to read two plays, and all the lectures will assume that you have knowledge of the non-Shakespearean plays, so if you do only one thing to prepare for the module this should be it. Please don't ignore this advice!