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English 7041: Our Scene is London: Urban Drama in the Early Seventeenth Century

This course will be concerned for the most part with the complex transitional period of Early Modern English drama from 1599 through the first two decades of the seventeenth century. The drama with which I myself am most interested is that which records the transition from the largely feudal, agrarian, and static world of the early Tudors to the mercantile, urban, and increasingly middle-class world of the Stuarts. It is a transition culminating in the emergence of London as a major European economic and mercantile power, and whose political implications are reflected, ironically, in the closing of the theatres in 1642 and the execution of Charles 1 in 1649.


Given the enormous amount of material susceptible to analysis in these terms, the course by its nature will offer ample opportunities for self-directed research and
exploration. The primary focus will be on the nature of the plays as works for the theatre; we will, however, consider a variety of related topics. The wide variety of dramatic forms that evolve over the period; the complex and shifting relationships of the theatrical, political, domestic, sexual, social, economic, intellectual, and metaphysical issues that both define and are defined by the drama; and the unstable relation between text and performance are a few of these. Students, however, will be encouraged to define their own particular areas of interest, and to participate in the process of shaping the course so as to accommodate them.



Winter 2012


Dr. Peter Ayers (