ENGL450 - Renaissance Drama I
0101 - Curren-Aquino, Deborah T.

Shakespeare, the preeminent dramatist of Early Modern English drama, did not emerge from or create his dramatic universe in a vacuum.  A rich and varied popular drama had developed in England from the Medieval period well into the sixteenth century (religious plays, folk dramas, and interludes). Vernacular academic experiments in Latinate and Italianate drama also flourished in the 1500s. The first half of the Tudor era saw a wide range of theatrical venues: churches, guildhalls, schools/universities, fields, marketplaces, street corners, festivals, and banquet halls; besides amateur actors, there were traveling troupes of players.  Then, with the building of  London’s public (outdoor) and private (indoor) playhouses in the final decades of the sixteenth century, professional theater exploded on the London scene, ushering in a “Golden Age” of English drama. The course will cover representative Tudor plays from the early 1500s to the turn of the century: interludes (religious and secular), academic drama, comedies, histories, and tragedies, with the emphasis on Shakespeare’s immediate predecessors and early contemporaries in the 1580s and 90s: John Lyly, George Peele, Thomas Kyd, Christopher Marlowe, Robert Greene, Thomas Dekker, and Thomas Heywood.  Influences to be considered include the Renaissance interplay of native and classical/continental traditions, humanism, the Reformation, patriarchy, patronage, prevailing political and socio-economic pressures, early modern theories of comedy, tragedy, and history, and conditions of performance (e.g., physical acting space and the role of boy actors).

GOALS: To explore the dramaturgical achievements and fluidity of genre in English 16th-century drama outside of Shakespeare and to improve critical reading skills, especially in terms of dramatic analysis.

REQUIREMENTS: Class participation (inclusive of several short assignments of 1 to 2 pages), a midterm, a final, and one paper of 8 to 10 pages.

REQUIRED TEXTBOOK: Drama of the English Renaissance I: The Tudor Period, edited by Russell Fraser and Norman Rabkin (Prentice Hall). Other readings will be available electronically, by way of handouts, and on reserve in the library.


Two English courses in literature or permission of the department.