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Early Modern Revisional Drama

Professor James Purkis
Fall Half Course.

This course will explore instances of writing from the early modern playhouses that might be described as revisional (“Of, relating to, or engaged in revision (in various senses)”, as the OED capaciously puts it).  Classes will explore how scripts were revised for production on stage and in print, focusing on two manuscript plays that show evidence of revision - Sir Thomas More and The Second Maiden’s Tragedy - and the two earliest printed texts of Shakepeare’s Romeo and Juliet.  Consideration of these texts will range across issues of censorship, collaboration, the pragmatics of performance, and corruption.  Classes will also explore how these divergent texts - the co-existing original and revised texts of the manuscripts, the “bad” and the “good” texts of Romeo and Juliet - may be read against one another to find new interpretative possibilities and historical insights.  A second, related emphasis on the revisional will touch on matters of biography, historiography, and intertextuality to see these plays and others as revisional in their rewritings of sources, histories and lives.  The two aspects of this course together thus trace processive rewritings across genre and medium as they are shaped by diverse cultural forces.

View the syllabus here: English 9081A.

Department of English - The University of Western Ontario
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