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level5

5AAEB042 A Mad World, My Masters: Performing Culture in Jacobean England

Credit value: 15
Module convenor: Professor Gordon McMullan
Assessment: 1 x 3000 word essay (100%)
Teaching pattern: One hour lecture and seminar weekly
Pre-requisites: None

Module description:

This module will give you a rare chance to look really closely at a short and precise period in the past of British theatre – at the astonishing explosion of plays that were written and performed in the reign of James I (1603-1625), a period often misunderstood as some sort of let-down after the ‘Golden Age’ of Elizabeth I. It was nothing of the sort. We will look a selection of vibrant Jacobean plays in their textual, theatrical and cultural contexts, focussing on cultural issues from revenge to gender, from colonialism to sexuality, from witchcraft to the urban, from Protestantism to the representation of Islam, and we will examine the ways in which culture was performed in Jacobean England – that is, the ways in which Jacobean culture was both represented and created on the stage. Our focus will be on the dramatic response to, and construction of, an urban, patriarchal society of achievement and unease, configuring Jacobean dramatic culture as a dialogue between opportunity and oppression, empowerment and enclosure, discovery and displacement.

Module aims and Learning outcomes:

This module explores drama of the Jacobean period (1603-1625) in a wide variety of social, cultural and theatrical contexts, looking at the range of interactions with local and global cultures that dramatists staged in their plays. It seeks to broaden students’ engagement with early modern drama via the study of canonical and non-canonical plays, and to give them the opportunity to engage with a range of critical and theoretical approaches.

By the end of the module, students will be able to demonstrate intellectual, transferable and practical skills appropriate to a Level 5 module and in particular will be able to:

  1. understand and analyse critically plays of the Jacobean period;
  2. evaluate critically a range of scholarly approaches to the study of Jacobean drama and outline their interpretations clearly in oral and written formats;
  3. use contextual material to explore the textual, cultural and theatrical contexts of Jacobean plays;
  4. employ a range of research skills using print and electronic resources.

Core reading:

We will work our way through a representative sample of plays from Jacobean London – representative, that is, of critical issues and of genres. Topics include urban theatre, the representation of women, violence and revenge, gender and sexuality, witchcraft, travel, the other, and the representation of Islam:

  • Thomas Middleton, A Mad World, My Masters
  • Thomas Heywood, A Woman Killed With Kindness
  • John Fletcher, The Woman’s Prize, or The Tamer Tamed
  • Ben Jonson, The Alchemist
  • Elizabeth Cary, The Tragedy of Mariam, the Fair Queen of Jewry
  • Thomas Middleton and William Rowley, The Changeling
  • William Rowley, Thomas Dekker and John Ford, The Witch of Edmonton
  • John Fletcher, The Island Princess
  • Philip Massinger, The Renegado

 

Module Description 2017-18

Credit value: 15
Module convenor: Professor Gordon McMullan
Assessment: Research portfolio (100%) consisting of a library task (300 words), an annotated bibliography (700 words) and an essay (3000 words)
Teaching pattern: One hour lecture and seminar weekly
Pre-requisites: None

Module description:

This module will give you a rare chance to look really closely at a short and precise period in the past of British theatre – at the astonishing explosion of plays that were written and performed in the reign of James I (1603-1625), a period often misunderstood as some sort of let-down after the ‘Golden Age’ of Elizabeth I. It was nothing of the sort. We will look a selection of vibrant Jacobean plays in their textual, theatrical and cultural contexts, focussing on cultural issues from revenge to gender, from colonialism to sexuality, from witchcraft to the urban, from Protestantism to the representation of Islam, and we will examine the ways in which culture was performed in Jacobean England – that is, the ways in which Jacobean culture was both represented and created on the stage. Our focus will be on the dramatic response to, and construction of, an urban, patriarchal society of achievement and unease, configuring Jacobean dramatic culture as a dialogue between opportunity and oppression, empowerment and enclosure, discovery and displacement.

Module aims and Learning outcomes:

This module explores drama of the Jacobean period (1603-1625) in a wide variety of social, cultural and theatrical contexts, looking at the range of interactions with local and global cultures that dramatists staged in their plays. It seeks to broaden students’ engagement with early modern drama via the study of canonical and non-canonical plays, and to give them the opportunity to engage with a range of critical and theoretical approaches.

By the end of the module, students will be able to demonstrate intellectual, transferable and practical skills appropriate to a Level 5 module and in particular will be able to:

  1. understand and analyse critically plays of the Jacobean period;
  2. evaluate critically a range of scholarly approaches to the study of Jacobean drama and outline their interpretations clearly in oral and written formats;
  3. use contextual material to explore the textual, cultural and theatrical contexts of Jacobean plays;
  4. employ a range of research skills using print and electronic resources.

Core reading:

We will work our way through a representative sample of plays from Jacobean London – representative, that is, of critical issues and of genres. Topics include urban theatre, the representation of women, violence and revenge, gender and sexuality, witchcraft, travel, the other, and the representation of Islam:

  • Thomas Middleton, A Mad World, My Masters
  • Thomas Heywood, A Woman Killed With Kindness
  • John Fletcher, The Woman’s Prize, or The Tamer Tamed
  • Ben Jonson, The Alchemist
  • Elizabeth Cary, The Tragedy of Mariam, the Fair Queen of Jewry
  • Thomas Middleton and William Rowley, The Changeling
  • William Rowley, Thomas Dekker and John Ford, The Witch of Edmonton
  • John Fletcher, The Island Princess
  • Philip Massinger, The Renegado

 

The modules run in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand so there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary depending between years.

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