English R1A

Reading and Composition: Staging Citizenship in English Renaissance Drama

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
2 Fall 2007 Joseph Ring
MWF 11-12 103 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

"Francis Beaumont, The Knight of the Burning Pestle

Thomas Dekker, The Shoemaker�s Holiday

Ben Jonson, Bartholomew Fair

Ben Jonson, Thomas Dekker, George Chapman, Eastward Ho!

Christopher Marlowe, The Jew of Malta

William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

William Shakespeare, Othello

Frederick Crews, The Random House Handbook

A Course Reader. "


"Course Description: This course will focus on representations of citizenship in early modern drama. We will begin with several Elizabethan plays whose central characters are racially or religiously marked as �other,� and hence excluded from citizenship. We will proceed through a series of so-called Jacobean �city� or �citizen� comedies, whose main characters�city-dwellers from the merchant class�often find themselves in shady parts of London, crowded together with marginal figures, such as vagabonds, petty chapmen, criminals, and actors. Among the major questions of the course will be: Who is a citizen? Who is included, excluded, and why? What light does �citizen� as a narrow class marker shed on an emerging political sense of citizenship, and vice versa? While we will pay attention to matters of theme and character, we will also concentrate on dramatic structures and conventions and on the richness of the plays� language. Principal readings will be drawn from Beaumont, Chapman, Dekker, Jonson, Marlowe, and Shakespeare. Secondary readings may be selected to provide historical background, provoke discussion, or illustrate contemporary critical approaches to the plays.

If arguments about the civic dimension of rhetoric have any merit, then perhaps the most important staging of citizenship in the class will happen in students� written work. In any case, this course is primarily designed to teach you how to work with principal modes of academic rhetoric: description, analysis, and argument. You will be required to write, in addition to a diagnostic essay and a number of short writing assignments, at least two formal essays, each of which you will substantially revise. As each student will also workshop these essays with a peer-editing group, you must be prepared to write detailed comments on other students� work. "

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