English 166

Special Topics: Classical & Renaissance Drama


Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
3 Spring 2018 Knapp, Jeffrey
TTh 3:30-5 300 Wheeler

Book List

Aeschylus: The Oresteia; Aristophanes: The Clouds; Euripedes: The Bacchae; Marlowe, Christopher: Doctor Faustus; Plautus: The Menaechmus Twins; Seneca: Thyestes; Shakespeare, William: Hamlet; Shakespeare, William: The Comedy of Errors; Shakespeare, William: Twelfth Night; Sophocles: Antigone; Sophocles: Oedipus the King

Other Readings and Media

A course reader (available at Copy Central on Bancroft) will include critical readings as well as further plays.

Description

In a poem for the first edition of Shakespeare’s collected plays in 1623, his fellow playwright Ben Jonson expressed a characteristic ambivalence about classical drama.  On the one hand, he praised it as the standard by which all subsequent playwriting should be judged, while on the other hand, he derided “insolent Greece” and “haughty Rome” for having fallen short of Shakespeare.  Jonson did not stop to consider the difficulties of comparing plays that derive from different eras, different cultures, and different conceptions of the theater.  But our class will.  At the same time, we will explore how Renaissance dramatists both imitated their extraordinary precursors and strove to outdo them.

This section of English 166 satisfies the pre-1800 requirement for the English major.

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