Foto: Matthias Friel
Sorcerers, witches, conjurers: Elizabethan and Jacobean drama is crowded with adepts and apprentices in the obscure arts of summoning spirits or ghosts, creating gold out of base material, and casting spells on their adversaries. While some critics maintain that Renaissance playwrights draw on magic simply in order to motivate spectacular stage effects, others hold that stage magic refers to a fundamental tension between competing systems of knowledge in the early modern period in which esoteric ”occult philosophy” clashed with the scientific revolution of Renaissance humanism and empiricism. In our seminar we will address these issues through in-depth discussions of a number of representative plays from the period, including Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus, and Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night's Dream and The Tempest. We will complement these full-length theatricals with (shorter) dramatic texts – so-called ‘masques’ – by Ben Jonson and John Milton in which stage spectacle is either celebrated as enchantment (Jonson), or condemned as unpious seduction (Milton). Besides in-depth analyses of the texts themselves, our seminar will zoom in on questions of knowledge, power, empire, and race, class and gender hierarchies.
Please buy and read:
Christopher Marlowe: Doctor Faustus (A and B texts) in Doctor Faustus and Other Plays. Ed. Davd Bevington and Eric Rasmussen (Oxford World Classics).
William Shakespeare: A Midsummer Night's Dream (Arden Shakespaeare 2017; ed. Sukanta Chaudhuri) ; The Tempest (Arden Shakspeare 2011; ed. Virginia Mason Vaughan and Alden T. Vaughan)
More material, including Ben Jonson's The Masque of Blackness and John Milton's Comus (A Masque Performed at Ludlow Castle), will be made available on moodle at the beginning of the semester.
3 PCs non-graded for an expert input (either individually or in tandem depending on the number of participants) and a response paper (ca. 1500 words)
If you consider to write a module paper in the context of this seminar, please contact me during one of my office hours.
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