R. L. Knutson
English 4321.01
Spring 2008
 
English Renaissance Drama
 
I. GENERAL INFORMATION:
 
Office Hours: MW, before and after class; TR, 10:00-10:30 am, Stabler Hall 501-U.
 
II. TEXTS:
 
Bookstore: English Renaissance Drama: A Norton Anthology, ed. Bevington et al., 2002 (ISBN: 0-393-97655-6; Amazon has lots of used and nearly-new texts at considerable savings)
Handouts: York “Judgment,” REED packet of documents, Mankind; The Marriage of Wit and Science; Cambyses, as well as the Chester “Flood” and York “Crucifixion,” depending on your choice for the REED essay (see below)
 
READINGS:
 
Medieval Drama Unit:
 
Jan 14: Intro to the class; Introduction to medieval drama: the cycle/mystery/Corpus Christi plays; plus formation of study groups on the York “Judgment” play (text and documents supplied by handout)
Jan 16: The York “Judgment” and the Mercers’ Inventory; REED Project groups (meet, get organized, in class); group members provide name and e-mail below:
 
REED Project Groups: Money (half the class); and Politics (half the class)

Jan 21: No Class (Dr. MLK, Jr. Holiday)
Jan 23: REED Project groups, in class
 
 
Jan 28: REED Project groups (for 1st 30 minutes); Group Reports (rest of class)
Jan 30: The Moral Play, Mankind (text supplied by handout)
 
 
Feb 4: Mankind, continued; Marriage of Wit and Science (text supplied by handout)
Feb 6: Marriage of Wit and Science, continued; Essay due Chester “Noah” play or the York “Crucifixion”

Elizabethan Drama Unit (after Cambyses, all of the plays are in the Norton Anthology:
 
Feb 11: Cambyses, by Thomas Preston (text supplied by handout)       
 
1. _____________________________
2. _____________________________
 
Feb 13: Cambyses, continued; Fourteeners contest
 
 
Feb 18: The Spanish Tragedy, by Thomas Kyd
 
3. _____________________________
4. _____________________________
 
Feb 20: The Spanish Tragedy, continued; blank verse contest
 
 
Feb 25: Tamburlaine, part 1, by Christopher Marlowe
 
5. _____________________________
6. _____________________________
 
Feb 27: Tamburlaine, part 1, continued; Marlowe’s Mighty Line contest
 
 
Mar 3: The Jew of Malta
 
7. _____________________________
8. _____________________________

Mar 5: The Jew of Malta, continued
                     
 
Mar 10: Arden of Feversham, Anonymous
 
9. _____________________________
10.   _____________________________
 
Mar 12: Arden of Feversham, Anonymous, continued; performance activity
 
 
Mar 17: The Shoemaker’s Holiday, by Thomas Dekker
 
11.   _____________________________
12.   _____________________________
 
Mar 19: The Shoemaker’s Holiday, continued; performance activity
 
Mar 24 — 28: SPRING BREAK
Jacobean Drama Unit:
 
Mar 31: Discussion: the research project
Apr 2: The Knight of the Burning Pestle, by Francis Beaumont
 
13.   _____________________________
14.   _____________________________
 
 
Apr 7: The Knight of the Burning Pestle, by Francis Beaumont; performance activity
Apr 9: The Alchemist by Ben Jonson
 
Apr 14: The Alchemist, continued; ; Guest speaker, Richard Dutton, Ohio State University
Apr 16: The Alchemist, continued
 
Apr 21: Duchess of Malfi, by John Webster
 
15.   _____________________________
16.   _____________________________
 
Apr 23: Duchess of Malfi, by John Webster, continued; performance activity
 
Apr 28, 30, May 5: Time Out, to work on papers & have conferences; Fat outline due April 30
 
 May 7: Final Paper due, 1:30 pm
 
Grades: Grades will depend on the following: class participation (40%), REED Project + paper (20%), and a final paper (40%).
 
Class Participation (40%): This is a big category.  I include attendance, student presentations on two plays (see sign-up, above), talking points on the plays that aren’t yours to present, participation in our performance activities, and e-chat that follows up class discussion. 
 
·        Attendance: this is a small class; I need each of you, every class. We’ll stop early (last class= April 23) so that you have a block of time to work on your final paper.
·        Student Presentations: I am asking each of you to sign up to present significant issues of two plays to the class; diversify your choices; make copies of your presentation outline for everyone in the class, including me
·        Talking points: for the plays for which you do not present, I am asking you to bring “talking points” to class; you can make these “fat” bullet points, if you want, but the point is to have at least 4 points you want to raise, or to put your two cents’ worth in on
·        Performance Activities: we’re going to do a lot of little stuff. Initially, these will be verse contests (and, yes, there will be prizes); then we’ll do bits of scenes from some of the other plays
·        E-chat: I’d love to see a conversation thread on e-mail; I’m hoping everyone will chip in with points they wish to pursue, with questions they didn’t get to raise in class, that sort of thing.
 
REED Project (20%): I see this in two parts:
 
1.       REED Project Groups: each of you will be in one of the two groups, “Money,” or “Politics.” You willget a set of REED documents that speak to your topic. I will ask each group to prepare a report to the rest of us that addresses the significance of the documents to the context of the York “Judgment” play. Visual aids welcome.
2.       REED essay: I will ask each of you to choose either the Chester “Flood” play or the York “Crucifixion,” and write an essay in which you (a) create [invent, make up] an inventory for your play AND, choosing any one of the documents from your group’s packet, create [invent] a comparable document for your chosen play.  The “essay” will explain what the two “newly discovered documents” contribute to our appreciation of the play you have chosen. Your “invented” documents can be in modern English.
 
Final Project (40%): By what criteria should early modern English plays not by Shakespeare be judged? 
 
In this assignment, I will ask you to choose a play at the margins of undergraduate discussions of early modern English drama and address it in terms of the question above.  (This question, as you will see, is the one we will be asking and answering all term.) I want you to evaluate the play—thumbs up or down—on its cultural and theatrical merit, not necessarily on its literary merit (unless that too applies). I will ask you to choose a play from the following list: Edmund Ironside, A Larum for London, A Warning for Fair Women, The Miseries of Enforced Marriage, and The Devil’s Charter. Texts are available online (LION) as well as by interlibrary loan.  I will have more to say of this assignment as the semester moves along, but let me say now that I mean to spin the entire course toward answering the question posed for this assignment.  I want the presentations to be shaped by the presenters’ best-opinions on this question; I want the talking points addressing the question. I think it is a fascinating and challenging question. I think it is the way these plays move from the margin into the center of academic consideration.
 
Course Objectives:
 
1.       To acquire a familiarity with and understanding of medieval and early modern English drama (excluding Shakespeare) within the context of the cultural, dramaturgical, and commercial aspects of their times
2.       To become familiar with the genre, themes, characters, language, and theatricality of these plays
3.       To refine skills in recognizing and evaluating the verse forms and prose style of these plays
4.       To develop an appreciation for the plays as drama through performance activities
5.       To become familiar with theatrical documents and comfortable interpreting them
6.       To refine writing skills, particularly academic argumentation
7.       To become proficient in organizing and making oral presentations on these plays
8.       To enjoy discussing these plays in live and e-conversation
 
 
GRADING SCALE: A = 90 or higher; B = 80-89; C = 70-79; D = 60-69; F = 59 or lower
 
 
DISABILITY SUPPORT SERVICES: It is the policy of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock to create inclusive learning environments. If there are aspects of the instruction or design of this course that result in barriers to your inclusion or to accurate assessment of achievement–such as time-limited exams, inaccessible web content, or the use of non-captioned videos–please notify the instructor as soon as possible. Students are also welcome to contact the Disability Resource Center, telephone 501-569-3143 (v/tty). For more information, visit the DRC website at http://ualr.edu/disability/.