7203X (3158) Early Modern Drama Exclusive of Shakespeare

Tanya Pollard

3150 Boylan

T. 4:30-6:30

e-mail: Tpollard@brooklyn.cuny.edu

website: http://academic.brooklyn.cuny.edu/english/tpollard

Office: 3108 Boylan

phone: 718-951-5000 x6216

hours: T 2:30-4:30, and by appointment

What were Shakespeare’s contemporaries, friends, and rivals doing while he was writing the plays that went on to dominate the literary canon? Their plays have much in common with his, but are (among other things) frequently more bloody, racy, and generally extravagant. This course will explore some of the popular conventions that attracted large crowds to the period’s commercial playhouses: the severed body parts (including tongues, skulls, and fingers) of revenge tragedy; the con-men and transvestites, male and female alike, who peopled city comedy; colorful drugs such as poisons, beauty potions, and virginity-testing tonics; and the parodies of other plays that demonstrated playwrights’ competitive and collaborative relationships with each other. Regular presentations and short papers will focus on language, close reading, and staging; a final paper will develop research, analytical, and writing skills.

 Week

Date

Reading

Group

1

8-30

Introduction

2

9-6

Thomas Kyd, The Spanish Tragedy

1-1

3

9-13

Spanish Tragedy; Ben Jonson, Volpone

2-1

4

9-20

Volpone

1-2

5

9-27

Thomas Middleton, The Revenger’s Tragedy

2-2

6

10-4

no class; classes follow Friday conversion schedule

 

7

10-11

Revenger’s Tragedy; Frances Beaumont, Knight of the Burning Pestle

1-3

8

10-18

Knight of the Burning Pestle

2-3

9

10-25

Middleton and Thomas Dekker, The Roaring Girl

1-4

10

11-1

The Roaring Girl; Jonson, Epicoene

2-4

11

11-8

Epicoene; proposal due for research paper

1-5

12

11-15

Changeling

2-5

13

11-22

no class; classes follow Thursday conversion schedule

 

14

11-29

Changeling; presentations on research paper

 

15

12-6

presentations on research paper

 

16

12-13

peer-editing workshop; draft of research paper due

17

12-20

final research paper due

Course Requirements and Expectations:

Attendance

Because your presentations and contributions to class discussion are a central part of your coursework, attendance is crucial. If you miss more than two classes, your overall grade will drop; at four absences, you may fail the class. Arriving late will count as a partial absence.

Texts

I have ordered copies of the plays at Shakespeare & Co, but you are welcome to use other editions if you prefer; if purchasing the books is a problem, there should be plenty of texts in the library. Because this class is based on close reading, it is important that everyone has a copy of the play in class. If you forget your copy, stop by the library and check one out on the way to class. Recommended secondary readings will be available through online databases or Blackboard.

Participation

Learning is a collaborative process, which works best when each of you engages fully with the texts and with each other. To this end, I will expect you to participate actively in class discussions, and you will be required to make frequent presentations. In order to build a classroom atmosphere of courtesy and concentration, please avoid behavior that is disrespectful and interferes with others’ learning, including rudeness, talking while others are speaking, and ringing from cell-phones, pagers, watches, etc.

Writing

Over the course of the semester you will write five short (1-2 page) papers accompanying in-class presentations, as well as one longer (10-12 pages) research paper. All written work should have a central claim that is well argued, clearly written, and directly supported by close readings of textual passages; the research paper will also incorporate, and respond to, at least three secondary sources. All papers should be typed, double-spaced, in a 12-point font, with one-inch margins on all sides. Written work is due at the start of class, and lateness will result in lowering of the grade. Any use of others’ ideas must be fully acknowledged in footnotes; speak to me if you are unsure about what this means. Plagiarism is a serious offense, and will result in failing the class and being reported to the Dean’s Office.

Coursework and grading:

Presentations

Short papers

Research paper

Participation


25%

25%

25%

25%



Selected recommended secondary readings:


Spanish Tragedy:

            Barry B. Adams, “The Audiences of The Spanish Tragedy,” JEGP 68:2 (1969), 221-236 (JSTOR)

            Gregory M. Colon Semenza, “The Spanish Tragedy and Metatheatre,” The Cambridge Companion to English Renaissance Tragedy, ed. Emma Smith and Garrett Sullivan Jr (Cambridge, 2010), 153-162. (Blackboard)


Volpone

            Ian Donaldson, “Volpone and the Ends of Comedy,” Sydney Studies 18 (1992), 48-71 (E-journals)

            Stephen Greenblatt, “The False Ending in Volpone,” JEGP, 75 (1976), 90-104 (JSTOR)


The Revenger’s Tragedy

            Michael Neill “Bastardy, Counterfeiting, and Misogyny in The Revenger’s Tragedy,” SEL 36:2 (1996), 397-416. (JSTOR)

            Heather Hirschfeld, “The Revenger’s Tragedy: Original Sin and the Allures of Vengeance,” The Cambridge Companion to English Renaissance Tragedy, 200-210. (Blackboard)


The Knight of the Burning Pestle

            Lucy Munro, “The Knight of the Burning Pestle and Generic Experimentation,” in Early Modern English Drama: A Critical Companion, ed. Garrett A. Sullivan, Jr., Patrick Cheney, and Andrew Hadfield (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), 189-199. (Blackboard)

            Laurie E. Osborne, “Female Audiences and Female Authority in The Knight of the Burning Pestle,” Exemplaria 3.2 (1991), 491-517. (EBSCO)


The Roaring Girl

            Valerie Forman, “Marked Angels: Counterfeits, Commodities, and The Roaring Girl,” Renaissance Quarterly 54:4 (2001), 1531-60. (JSTOR)

            Natasha Korda, “The Case of Moll Frith: Women's Work and the ‘All-Male Stage’,” Early Modern Culture (2004) http://emc.eserver.org/1-4/korda.html


Epicoene

            Karen Newman, “City Talk: Women and Commodification in Jonson’s Epicoene,”ELH 56:3 (1989), 503-18. (JSTOR)

            Phyllis Rackin, “Androgyny, Mimesis, and the Marriage of the Boy Heroine on the English Renaissance Stage,” PMLA 102:1 (1987), 29-41. (JSTOR)


The Changeling

            Marjorie Garber, “The Insincerity of Women,” in Desire in the Renaissance: Psychoanalysis and Literature (Princeton: Princeton UP, 1994) (Ebrary)

            Gordon McMullan, “The Changeling and the Dynamics of Ugliness,” The Cambridge Companion to English Renaissance Tragedy, 222-235. (Blackboard)

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