Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Shakespeare and Tudor Drama

LEVEL 01 - Year 1 in Modular Undergraduate Course



DESCRIPTION The historical and literary background to this study-unit traces the influence of Mystery and Morality plays in England and in Europe in the later Middle Ages - Everyman and Castle of Perseverance are examined. This study-unit then more fully explores the continuing development of drama during the Tudor period, concentrating more particularly on Authorial Intention, Orthodoxy, Transgression, Language and Imagery in 3 of the following plays by Christopher Marlowe: The Jew of Malta; Tamburlaine I and II; Dr. Faustus and Edward II.

This study-unit involves an introduction to the idea of Tragedy both as theatrical genre and theoretical concept, focusing in particular on its relevance to Shakespearean tragedy. It will present a brief history of the genre in its Greek, Roman, Medieval and Renaissance forms and their impact on Shakespeare’s dramatic practice. It will also outline what major theorists have written on tragedy as literary and philosophical concept. Finally, the lectures will explore the distinctiveness of Shakespearean tragedy by a critical analysis of his four major tragedies, namely Hamlet, King Lear, Othello and Macbeth.

Learning Objectives:

The study-unit aims to enable students to:

- Gain a fuller appreciation of the tragic genre in order to develop their critical knowledge and competent awareness of Shakespeare as One of its supreme masters.
- Evaluate the beauty of Shakespeare’s verse drama, his insights into human nature and society.
- Enjoy the sheer power and pleasure of four Shakespearean masterpieces.

Learning Outcomes:

By the end of this study-unit, the student will be able to:

- Achieve and demonstrate an overall comprehension of the idea of tragedy and Shakespeare’s texts.
- Analyse, discuss and write cogently about the various literary and dramatic values of Shakespeare’s tragedies.
- Express their ideas in a clear, well-structured and idiomatically written essay.


- A.C.Cawley: Everyman and Medieval Miracle Plays (1993).
- Anthony B. Dawson: Marlowe’s Tamburlaine I & II (2003).
- John H. Ingram Christopher Marlowe and his Associates (2011).
- Harry Levin Christopher Marlowe:The Overreacher (1952).
- Robert A. Logan The Jew of Malta (2013).
- Charles Nicholl The Reckoning (2002).
- Howard B. Norland Drama in Early Tudor Britain (1995).
- David Riggs The World of Christopher Marlowe (2004).
- David Scott Kastan Doctor Faustus (2005).
- Emma Smith & Tom Griffith Marlowe: The Plays (2000).
- J.B. Steane Marlowe: A Critical Study (1970).
- Martin Wiggins Christoper Marlowe: Edward II (2003).


- Four Tragedies (Penguin classics 1995).
- Shakespearean Tragedy by A.C. Bradley (Penguin Books 1991).
- The Cambridge Introduction to Shakespeare’s Tragedies by Janette Dillon (CUP 2007).
- Tragedy: A Very Short Introduction by Adrian Poole (OUP 2005).
- The Philosophy of Tragedy by Julian Young (CUP 2013).
- King Lear, Macbeth, Indefinition, and Tragedy by Stephen Booth (Cybereditions Corporation 2002).
- Sweet Violence: The Idea of the Tragic by Terry Eagleton (John Wiley and Sons Ltd 2002).


Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Take Home Examination (5 Hours) SEM2 Yes 100%

LECTURER/S Krista Bonello Rutter Giappone

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It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2020/1. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.