ENGLISH 318 - Genre Studies
Winter 2020, Section 003 - Transgression, Scandal and Celebrity in Early Modern Drama
Instruction Mode: Section 003 is  In Person (see other Sections below)
Subject: English Language and Literature (ENGLISH)
Department: LSA English Language & Literature
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Requirements & Distribution:
With permission of instructor.
May be repeated for a maximum of 6 credit(s).
Primary Instructor:


In the beginning of the play The Roaring Girl, an actor reminds the audience that they are all arriving with their own expectations and desires about Moll Cutpurse, the infamous London thief whose adventures the play is dramatizing. Each audience member arrives and “brings a play in’s head with him,” a phrase that gestures toward what we now call a ‘headcanon.’ Theatrical narratives of transgression and scandal often turned public ‘drama’ into literal drama: witches, thieves, murder, adultery, and court intrigue all made for enticing plays. In this course, we will explore how these plays navigated categories of the private and the public. Who became a “celebrity” in early modern London, and how?

We will read biopics of notorious figures like the cross-dressing thief Moll Cutpurse in The Roaring Girl, as well as domestic tragedies that dramatized infamous murders like Arden of Faversham and A Yorkshire Tragedy. We will also read plays that examined the category of public celebrity, like Shakespeare’s Coriolanus.

Course Requirements:

Assignments will include two shorter essays and one final 10-page research paper. The cost of textbooks will not exceed $60.


ENGLISH 318 - Genre Studies
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
 In Person
MW 1:00PM - 2:30PM
002 (LEC)
 In Person
MW 11:30AM - 1:00PM
003 (LEC)
 In Person
TuTh 10:00AM - 11:30AM

Textbooks/Other Materials

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