Monday, May 2, 2016

Research Paper: Guidelines, Expectations, Possible Topics

Due: Friday, June 3.
Submission guidelines: Submit by email before midnight ( The essay should be in Word format and the file title should be your last name (i.e. Johnson.doc). I will return graded essays to you by email with comments inserted using the Word comments feature.
Length: 2,000 (approx.)

The major assignment of the course, the Research Paper should demonstrate: 

(1) that you have read the relevant play or plays you're writing on closely.
(2) that you know how to advance a focused, clear argument and support it with evidence.
(3) that you know how to position that argument in relation to the ideas of other critics. (Please engage with at least one piece of criticism)
(4) that you know how to analyze literary texts in a way that is responsive to cultural and historical context. 
(5) that you know how to document sources and quotations properly. (Please follow the MLA Handbook for matters of documentation and style.)
Also, of course:
(6) your research paper is expected to be free from basic problems of grammar and spelling.

You may choose to write on any topic that relates to our course his semester. If you don't already have something in mind, below are some (very broad) areas of inquiry to help you start thinking.

Any play (or plays) in relation to a specific acting company

Any play (or plays) in relation to a specific theater

Drama and print

The material conditions of performance


Drama and politics (best to focus on a specific context or event)

Gender and sexuality (including either, or both, femininity and masculinity)

Drama and the Global Renaissance (Tamburlaine?)

Drama and urban experience 

The city and/as the stage

The the development of tragedy

The ethics of tragedy        

Sources and analogues (native, continental, classical, Biblical)

Drama and the history of emotions

Drama and the senses 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Thomas Middleton (1580-1627)

Thomas Middleton, A Chast Mayd in Cheape-Side (London, 1630)
(likely written and performed in 1613)

Below: Pieter Bruegel the Elder, The Fight Between Carnival and Lent (1559)

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Francis Bacon, "Of Revenge" (1625)

REVENGE is a kind of wild justice; which the more man’ s nature runs to, the more ought law to weed it out. For as for the first wrong, it doth but offend the law; but the revenge of that wrong, putteth the law out of office. Certainly, in taking revenge, a man is but even with his enemy; but in passing it over, he is superior; for it is a prince’s part to pardon. And Solomon, I am sure, saith, It is the glory of a man, to pass by an offence. That which is past is gone, and irrevocable; and wise men have enough to do, with things present and to come; therefore they do but trifle with themselves, that labor in past matters. There is no man doth a wrong, for the wrong’s sake; but thereby to purchase himself profit, or pleasure, or honor, or the like. Therefore why should I be angry with a man, for loving himself better than me? And if any man should do wrong, merely out of ill-nature, why, yet it is but like the thorn or briar, which prick and scratch, because they can do no other. The most tolerable sort of revenge, is for those wrongs which there is no law to remedy; but then let a man take heed, the revenge be such as there is no law to punish; else a man’s enemy is still before hand, and it is two for one. Some, when they take revenge, are desirous, the party should know, whence it cometh. This is the more generous. For the delight seemeth to be, not so much in doing the hurt, as in making the party repent. But base and crafty cowards, are like the arrow that flieth in the dark. Cosmus, duke of Florence, had a desperate saying against perfidious or neglecting friends, as if those wrongs were unpardonable; You shall read (saith he) that we are commanded to forgive our enemies; but you never read, that we are commanded to forgive our friends. But yet the spirit of Job was in a better tune: Shall we (saith he) take good at God’s hands, and not be content to take evil also? And so of friends in a proportion. This is certain, that a man that studieth revenge, keeps his own wounds green, which otherwise would heal, and do well. Public revenges are for the most part fortunate; as that for the death of Caesar; for the death of Pertinax; for the death of Henry the Third of France; and many more. But in private revenges, it is not so. Nay rather, vindictive persons live the life of witches; who, as they are mischievous, so end they infortunate.

The Memorial of Lord Darley (1567)
In the foreground, the infant James Stuart (later King James VI and I of Scotland and England) says, "Arise, O Lord, and avenge the innocent blood of the king my father, and I beseech thee defend me with thy right hand."

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Tamburlaine: Cultural Contexts

Richard Knolles, A Generall Historie of the Turkes (1603)

Richard Hakluyt, The Principal Navigations (1598-1600)

Abraham Ortelius, Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (1570; this image from 1603 ed.)
See Ortelius's map of the Middle East here.

(attr.) Robert Greene and Thomas Lodge, The Tragedy of Selimus (1638)

Robert Daborne, A Christian Turn'd Turke (1612)

(attr.) George Peele, The Battle of Alcazar (1594)