English Drama to 1700

A study of English drama from its medieval origins to Restoration comedy, with special attention to major non-Shakespearean Renaissance playwrights such as Thomas Kyd, Christopher Marlowe, Ben Jonson, Thomas Middleton, John Webster, and John Ford. We’ll study the theatrical conditions that gave rise to this body of dramatic literature, its characteristic thematic obsessions (gender, sexuality, power, revenge, and magic — as well as theatricality itself), as well as the ways in which the plays are performed today.

Sample reading list:
Christopher Marlowe, The Jew of Malta, Edward II, Dr. Faustus
Ben Jonson, Volpone, The Alchemist
John Webster, The Duchess of Malfi
Thomas Middleton, The Revenger’s Tragedy, The Roaring Girl, The Changeling
John Ford, The Pity She’s a Whore
Aphra Behn, The Rover
See instructor for complete list

Reading/Writing assignments:
150-200pp. of reading weekly. Reading: One or two plays per week, 25-50 pages of secondary reading. Writing: Weekly “Discussion Group” entries of 300-400 words, and two critical essays of approximately 3000 words. Students will also be required to work on a scene from one of the plays, to be presented during Reading Period.

Other information:
Students interested in this course might want to see the production of Marlowe’s Tamburlaine at NY’s Theatre for a New Audience (Nov 1–Dec 21). We shall also watch a few film and television versions of the course material. Distribution Requirement: British Foundation


Prerequisites and Restrictions

None, but a working knowledge of the following Shakespeare plays would be useful: Hamlet, The Merchant of Venice, Richard II, Twelfth Night, The Tempest, and Romeo and Juliet.



Wednesdays, 1:30 - 4:20 pm


Michael Cadden