Shakespeare and Renaissance Tragedy (EAS3137)

30 credits

Tragedy, as a distinctive literary and dramatic form, was one of the major contributions of English culture to the European Renaissance. This module offers the opportunity to study ten tragedies written from the early 1590s to the 1630s, including well-known and lesser-known plays by William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, John Ford, Thomas Heywood, John Marston and Philip Massinger. Two weeks are spent on Shakespeare’s Hamlet; one week is also devoted to non-dramatic tragic writing of the Elizabethan period. Through weekly study of individual tragic texts, students will gain appreciation of the development of English tragedy in relation to its social, political and intellectual contexts. They will also become familiar with, and be invited to debate and challenge, current theoretical and historical approaches to the form. The module’s texts are grouped into three master-themes: 1) tragedies of the household; 2) tragedies of learning and belief; 3) the fall of princes.