BA Art History and English Literature
Year of entry: 2020
Course unit details:
Revenge Tragedy: Wild Justice on the English Renaissance Stage
|Unit level||Level 3|
|Teaching period(s)||Semester 2|
|Offered by||English and American Studies|
|Available as a free choice unit?||No|
The course investigates the explosive genre of revenge tragedy, examining the violent and transgressive plays about revenge which were among the most popular on the English Renaissance stage. The revengers are usually in pursuit of corrupt figures of authority, and the plays are compellingly political. The course will discuss the politics of the plays alongside their explorations of madness and their subversive and controversial depictions of gender, sexuality and desire. It will also illuminate the ways in which the tragedies engage with changing contemporary concepts of marriage, the family and the state. The course will conclude with a discussion of recent film versions of early modern revenge tragedies.
- to introduce students to the genre of revenge tragedy on the English Renaissance stage and to chart the development of the genre in the era
- to examine the politically-charged nature of the tragedies alongside their treatment of themes including violence, gender, sexuality and madness
- to equip students to discuss revenge tragedies in relation to each other and in relation to their historical and cultural contexts
- to familiarize students with critical debates about revenge tragedy
- to encourage oral presentation skills through the use of student presentations and seminar discussions
- to develop skills in written expression and the presentation of a coherent argument at a level appropriate to final degree work
Indicative weekly schedule:
- Kyd, The Spanish Tragedy
- Shakespeare, Hamlet
- Middleton, The Revenger’s Tragedy
- Webster, The Duchess of Malfi
- Webster, The White Devil
- Close reading exercise
- Middleton, Women Beware Women
- Middleton and Rowley, The Changeling
- Ford, ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore
- Screening revenge: film versions of Renaissance revenge tragedies
Teaching and learning methods
1 hour lecture, 2 hour seminar per week.
Knowledge and understanding
- demonstrate an understanding of the genre of revenge tragedy in the period
- discuss revenge tragedies in detail in relation to their generic context as well as in relation to wider social and cultural contexts
- understand and analyze a range of early modern plays
- engage critically with secondary material and critical debates
- identify and locate relevant primary and secondary material
- present written work in an appropriate form
- deliver a coherent oral presentation
Transferable skills and personal qualities
- present a coherent written argument
- put forward independent ideas in group discussions and in oral presentations
- Analytical skills
- Students taking this unit will be able to analyse and evaluate arguments and texts. Above all, committed students will emerge from this course unit with an advanced capacity to think critically, i.e. knowledgeably, rigorously, confidently and independently.
- Group/team working
- Students taking this unit will be able to work courteously and constructively as part of a larger group.
- On this unit students are encouraged to respond imaginatively and independently to the questions and ideas raised by texts and other media.
- Students on this unit must take responsibility for their learning and are encouraged not only to participate in group discussions but to do so actively and even to lead those discussions.
- Project management
- Students taking this unit will be able to work towards deadlines and to manage their time effectively.
- Oral communication
- Students taking this unit will be able to show fluency, clarity and persuasiveness in spoken communication.
- Students on this unit will be required to digest, summarise and present large amounts of information. They are encouraged to enrich their responses and arguments with a wide range of further reading.
- Written communication
- Students on this unit will develop their ability to write in a way that is lucid, precise and compelling.
Close reading exercise (2000 word Essay) (30%)
3000 word Essay (60%)
- Oral and written feedback on student presentation
- Oral and written feedback on close reading exercise
- Oral and written feedback on coursework essay
- additional one-to-one feedback (during the consultation hour or by making an appointment)
Readings for 2018-19 may include:
Kyd, The Spanish Tragedy
Middleton, The Revenger’s Tragedy
Webster, The Duchess of Malfi
Webster, The White Devil
Middleton, Women Beware Women
Middleton and Rowley, The Changeling
Ford, ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore
|Scheduled activity hours|
|Assessment written exam||1|
|Independent study hours|
|Naomi Baker||Unit coordinator|
Timetable for 2019/20:
Lecture: Mon 12pm - 1pm
Seminar 1: Wed 11am - 1pm
Seminar 2: Thu 11am - 1pm