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Crossing Borders on the Early Modern Stage
FIST 302
Spring 2018 not offered
Crosslisting: SPAN 302, THEA 322, ENGL 377, COL 314

This course looks at the ways in which seven fascinating plays by Cervantes, Shakespeare, Lope de Vega, John Webster, and Philip Massinger responded creatively to and still challenge narratives about a period in which many situate the origins of globalization. Written from 1580 to 1630 for the first public, commercial theaters of the Western world (in Madrid and London), these plays explore the anxieties, hopes, dangers, and pleasures generated by a century of displacements--of peoples, ideas, goods, capital, and diseases--that had transformed the look, feel, and taste of daily life even in remote villages of Spain and England. From Cervantes' use of Roman history to dramatize the contemporary wages of empire, to Massinger's and Cervantes' evocations of Christian captivity in Tunis and Algiers (which Cervantes experienced in the flesh for five years), to Lope's and Webster's markedly distinct versions of a celebrity murder (of the Italian Duchess of Amalfi, killed by her brothers for marrying the commoner steward of her household), to Shakespeare's and Lope's romantic comedy exploration of conflicting loyalties and shifting gender roles in a world of accelerated social mobility, these plays often resort to seemingly remote places (ancient Rome, Islamic Algiers and Tunis, Renaissance Milan and Naples) to examine the exoticism, immorality, internal conflicts, and injustices of the supposedly familiar worlds of their audiences in Madrid and London. Organized around the careful reading of seven key play-texts in English, together with historical, critical, and theoretical readings, this seminar will offer students multiple ways to approach early modern plays through printed and online resources and Wesleyan's Special Collections and Archives. We will pay particular attention to the local conditions that help explain why Spanish and English theatrical cultures were so similar despite divergent political and religious trajectories (their commercial orientation, for instance) and also why, on the other hand, even plays that drew on the same sources could differ so markedly (because, for instance, of the prominence of actresses on the Spanish professional stage in roles played by boy actors in England). Those interested in translation and performance will have opportunities to pursue them in class presentations, papers, and final projects.
Credit: 1 Gen Ed Area Dept: HA RLAN
Course Format: DiscussionGrading Mode: Graded
Level: UGRD Prerequisites: None
Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (COL)(FRST-MN)

Last Updated on OCT-16-2021
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