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Unit information: Early Modern Drama in 2018/19

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Unit name Early Modern Drama
Unit code ENGL10048
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Gareth Griffith
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of English
Faculty Faculty of Arts


This unit will examine the development of sixteenth- and early seventeenth- century drama, just before and after the birth of the public playhouse. The work of Shakespeare will act as a focus for this study, and other dramatists of the period will be discussed in relation to a selection of his plays. These will be read and discussed, alongside performance records and other documentation. There will be opportunities to consider issues such as performance circumstances, the practicalities of staging, and authorship and collaboration.


This unit aims to develop students’ knowledge of the theatre and performance contexts before, during, and after the period when Shakespeare was writing. A range of writers and plays, and documentary evidence relevant to them, will be introduced; and there will be opportunities to consider performance questions through practical workshops, as well as by reading a range of appropriate materials. The unit aims to facilitate students’ ongoing appreciation of the chronology and historical development of literature in English.

Intended learning outcomes

At the end of the unit a successful student will be able to

1) demonstrate a critical understanding of Shakespeare’s plays and how they relate to other plays written by Shakespeare’s contemporaries

2) analyse dramatic poetry and prose from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in terms of its staging, vocabulary, imagery, characterisation, structure, and other aspects

3) communicate their ideas about the written texts analytically, coherently and persuasively.

Teaching details

10 x 3-hour seminars (1 per week)

Assessment Details

1 x 2000 word essay (50%) [ILOs 1-3]

1 x take-home exam with particular focus on critical commentary (Fri-Mon) (50%) [ILOs 1-3]

Reading and References

William Shakespeare, The Norton Shakespeare ed. Stephen Greenblatt et al. (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2016)

English Renaissance Drama ed. David Bevington et al. (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2002)

The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare and Contemporary Dramatists ed. Ton Honselaars (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001)