English R1B

Reading and Composition: English Renaissance Drama (1588-1640): Text and Performance

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
8 Fall 2006 Brendan Prawdzik
TTh 12:30-2 223 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

"A Course Reader

English Renaissance Drama

A Companion to Shakespeare

The Elements of Style"


We will hone the skills of composition, argumentation, and research as we journey through the glory days of the early English stage. The �stage� here not only refers to the plays that we have come to accept as masterpieces of the English literary cannon�Dr. Faustus, Hamlet, King Lear, etc.�but it also directly implicates the material realities of dramatic performance, the social trends, economics, technologies, laws, and people enabled the English drama to thrive and endure. We will read a selection of plays within the available contexts of actual dramatic performance in the period; while the readings will certainly include Shakespeare, they will also embrace an array of lesser known dramatists. Readings will also include a selection of critical and historical essays. We will learn to appreciate the unstable essence of dramatic texts, working to mediate the distance between the play-as-book and the play-as-performance. We will visit the Bancroft library to examine authentic early printed versions of plays�such as the 1623 Shakespeare First Folio�but we will also study film and stage performances to earn richer understanding of these works. Students will attend regular writing sessions, working with the instructor to develop a number of short essays based on class readings. The semester will culminate in a research-intensive project (approx. 8 pages) that will challenge students to imagine how they would stage a scene from a Renaissance play; research will include a primary text (the play itself), critical essays, light historical research, film, and perhaps an interview (these are just a few examples). At least one of the research lessons will involve an amusing experiment in hands-on learning. There may also be opportunities for one or more optional fieldtrips outside of class hours.

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