Singapore University of Social Sciences

Jacobean Drama

Jacobean Drama (ELT371)

Applications Open: 01 May 2023

Applications Close: 15 June 2023

Next Available Intake: July 2023

Course Types: Modular Undergraduate Course

Language: English

Duration: 6 months

Fees: $1378 View More Details on Fees

Area of Interest: Linguistics and Languages

Schemes: Alumni Continuing Education (ACE)

Funding: To be confirmed

School/Department: School of Humanities & Behavioural Sciences


Seventeenth-century plays written and performed during the reign of King James I (1603-1625) display a distinctive focus on sex, money and power. This course looks at Shakespeare’s contemporaries, such as Ben Jonson, John Webster, and Thomas Middleton. Particular attention will be given to the nature and development of the Jacobean dramatic genre of revenge tragedy and to perhaps the greatest comedy of the period – Jonson’s Volpone – whose concerns are closely related to those of revenge drama. Students will also look at the treatment of gender and morality in the context of Jacobean theatre and society, and engage with critical debates and theoretical approaches to selected Jacobean plays. We will conclude by studying a slightly later play, John Ford’s ’Tis Pity She’s a Whore (1629), that summarizes the thematic preoccupations and tactics of Jacobean drama. Attention will be given, especially in the online components, to the plays in performance and to Jacobean theatres and staging.

Level: 3
Credit Units: 5
Presentation Pattern: Every semester


  • Study Unit 1: Social and Literary Context
  • Objectives and Overview
  • Chapter 1: An Age of Anxiety
  • Chapter 2: Jacobean Revenge and Christian Ideas of Evil
  • Study Unit 2: Focus on Four Plays
  • Objectives and Overview
  • Chapter 3: The Revenger's Tragedy
  • Study Unit 2: Focus on Four Plays
  • Chapter 4: The Duchess of Malfi
  • Study Unit 2: Focus on Four Plays
  • Chapter 5: Volpone
  • Study Unit 2: Focus on Four Plays
  • Review Chapters 4 and 5
  • Study Unit 2: Focus on Four Plays
  • Chapter 6: 'Tis Pity She's a Whore
  • Review 'Tis a Pity She's a Whore
  • Study Unit 3: Review and Conclusion
  • Objectives and Overview
  • Chapter 7: Wrap-Up

Learning Outcome

  • Demonstrate the use of close reading skills to examine literary style and thematic issues in Jacobean drama.
  • Show the significance of the social and political context of Jacobean society
  • Analyse the distinctive literary and thematic characteristics of Jacobean revenge drama
  • Formulate a critical overview of the contemporary relevance of the thematic preoccupations and tactis of Jacobean drama
  • Compare and contrast the use of various stylistic aspects and the treatment of issues in plays
  • Compose academic essays that employ the appropriate skills in scholarly research, writing and citation
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