ENGL305 - Shakespeare and His Contemporaries: An Introduction

Readings in Shakespeare and contemporaries such as Marlowe, Dekker, Middleton, Jonson, Webster, Chapman, Marston. Elizabethan and Jacobean theatrical and social contexts.

In this course, we will look to some of Shakespeare’s best-known plays as well as plays by his contemporaries to ask after the strange relationship that they pose between anger and sympathy. Anger would appear on its face to be the most unsympathetic of feelings, but in this course, we will ask how the language of Shakespeare and his contemporaries forges links between seemingly incompatible feelings. What is the relationship between anger and sympathy? Between anger and forgiveness? Between anger and justice? What can these plays teach us about the value of seemingly negative emotions, and is there such a thing as “righteous anger”? To address these questions, we will look to revenge tragedies, comedies, and what critics often refer to as “problem plays.” Plays by Shakespeare may include Hamlet, The Merchant of Venice, and The Winter’s Tale, among others; and other authors may include Christopher Marlowe, Ben Jonson, and John Webster.