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.
Credit Units: 5
Presentation Pattern: Every semester