ENGL 257/3.0 Elizabethan Shakespeare
Dr. Peter Lowe
On this course we will use Shakespeare’s early plays to explore the social, intellectual, and political nature of the Elizabethan world in which he lived and wrote. Elizabeth I came to the throne amidst hopes of a new ‘Golden Age’ for England, and in many respects these hopes were fulfilled through a wealth of new scientific and intellectual discoveries, and the exploration and colonisation of new countries far from home. If the Elizabethan world was a changing one, however, it was also highly unstable, as religious tensions and grievances flared up into revolt and treason, and the pace of social change led to widespread civil unrest.
This was the world in which the young Shakespeare made his name, and in our study of five of his plays from this period we will see how he responded to the dynamics of the world around him. This was also a time when theatres themselves changed fundamentally, with plays staged in new purpose-built venues for the first time in this country. Field trips will give us the opportunity to see the Shakespearean sights of Stratford and the reconstructed Globe Theatre in London, helping us to better understand how the practicalities of staging such plays enhanced Shakespeare’s writing.