Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
DRAMA AND THE CITY, 1580 -1625
Academic Year
Intended for use in future years

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminars / Tutorials Seminar. 2 hours per week


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 1 x 5,000 word essay  Essay: 
Supplementary Assessment Resubmit any failed elements and/or make good any missing elements. Where this involves re-submission of work, a new topic must be selected. 

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module, students should be able to:

1. demonstrate a detailed knowledge of a range of early modern plays about London from across the period 1580-1625;

2. analyse the relationship of the plays to appropriate theatrical and socio-historical contexts;

3. evaluate a selection of twentieth-century theorisations of the relationship between the early modern theatre and the early modern marketplace;

4. synthesise knowledge of texts, contexts and theoretical perspectives in the form of an extended piece of critical writing.


This module explores representations of London in the drama of the period. Throughout these years the theatre stood in an equivocal relation to the city: physically, in that almost all the playhouses were situated just outside the City's jurisdiction; socially and culturally, in that the players occupied a peculiar social position, uneasily perched between the commercial marketplace and the patronage networks of the court. What part did the theatre, thus anomalously situated, play in the creation and revision of its London audiences's sense of civic identity? Wht were the relations between the theatre and the market, and how do the plays mediate these relations? What were the grounds of the city authorities' hostility to the theatre, and how did the players negotiate that hostility? These are some of the questions that we will consider. The module should be of interest to students with a general interest in the cultural history of the early modern period as well as those with a more specific interest in the theatre.

_1. The Clown and the Urban Displaced

Main text: Robert Wilson, "The Three Ladies of London";
also: Wilson, "The Three Lords and The Three Ladies of London"; Anon., "The Famous Victories of Henry V".

_2. London Worthies

Main text: Dekker, "The Shoemaker's Holiday";
also: Munday, "The Books of Sir Thomas More, Jack Straw.

_3. Fantasies of Commerce

Main text: Jonson, "The Devil is an Ass";
also Jonson, "The Alchemist"; Anon., "The London Prodigal.

_4. Girding at Citizens

Main texts: Jonson, Chapman and Marston: "Eastward Ho!";
also Beaumont, "The Knight of the Burning Pestle"; Middleton, "A Trick to Catch the Old One".

_5. Festivity and the Marketplace

Main texts: Middleton, "A Chaste Maid in Cheapsider"; Jonson, "Bartholomew Fair".


This module is at CQFW Level 7