English 114B

Upper Division Coursework: English Drama from 1603 to 1700

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Fall 2005 Altman, Joel B.
Altman, Joel
TTh 11-12:30 170 Barrows

Other Readings and Media

Fraser and Rabkin ed.: Drama of the English Renaissance II: The Stuart Period; course reader


In the first three decades of the seventeenth century, an extraordinary burst of energy and talent was visible and audible on the London stage. Socially aspiring dramatists satirized the pretensions of the upwardly mobile, revealed the tragic, sometimes grotesque implications of assigned gender behavior, explored the often quirky nature of sexual taste, dared to dabble in forbidden political commentary, and challenged and manipulated theatrical conventions by remarking self-reflexively on theatrical representation so obsessively that early 20th century critics (including T.S. Eliot) thought their work decadent. This was very much a theater-on-demand, a competitive cultural institution to which people on many levels of society flocked to see their interests represented by brilliant, often idiosyncratic writers--among them John Marston, Ben Jonson, George Chapman, Thomas Middleton, John Webster, Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher, John Ford, and Philip Massinger--who were Shakespeare's contemporaries and his professional competitors. Their work will shape our study of the role of theater amid the increasing social tensions that arose under the Jacobean and Caroline regimes.

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