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Not Shakespeare: Elizabethan and Jacobean Popular Theatre

This series of six lectures introduces six plays from the Elizabethan and Jacobean theatre. Once popular and now little-known, they can tell us a lot about what their first audiences enjoyed, aspired to and worried about - from immigrants in early modern London to the role of women in the household, from what religious changes might mean for attitudes to the dead to fantasies of easy money and social elevation.

Each lecture outlines the play so there is no assumption you have already read it, then goes on to try to understand its historical context and its dramatic legacy, drawing parallels with modern film and contemporary culture as well as with Elizabethan material. The lecturer's aim with students in the room and with interested listeners on iTunes U is to broaden our understanding of the theatre Shakespeare wrote for by thinking about some non-Shakespearean drama, and to recreate some of the excitement and dramatic possibilities of the new, popular technology of Renaissance theatre.

# Episode Title Description People Date Media Files
1 Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales; http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/ The Spanish Tragedy: Thomas Kyd Popular tragedy in which Hieronimo pursues aristocratic murderers of his son Horatio and takes revenge. It speaks, like Hollywood Westerns, to questions about private revenge versus public justice, and to the vexed religious questions of its age. Emma Smith 05 Nov 2009
  • (44.95 MB)
2 Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales; http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/ The Spanish tragedie The Spanish tragedie / Kyd, Thomas, 1558-1594. This is the epub edition of the play. Thomas Kyd 05 Nov 2009
  • (927.79 KB)
3 Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales; http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/ Arden of Faversham: Anon A true crime story of the murder of Thomas Arden by his wife and her lover, this play is concerned with the politics of the household, with gender roles within marriage, and presents a black comedy of botched murder attempts rather like The Ladykillers. Emma Smith 05 Nov 2009
  • (38.13 MB)
4 Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales; http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/ Arden of Feversham Arden of Feversham / Unknown. This is the epub edition of the play. Anonymous 05 Nov 2009
  • (765.54 KB)
5 Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales; http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/ The Shoemaker's Holiday: Thomas Dekker Like a Busby Berkeley depression-era musical, Dekker's comedy is a feel-good antidote to a context of shortages, political malaise and general pessimism, but real life in the shape of war, class antagonism and civic tensions, always threatens to intrude. Emma Smith 06 Nov 2009
  • (41.71 MB)
6 Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales; http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/ The shoemaker's holiday The shoemakers' holiday / Dekker, Thomas, ca. 1572-1632. This is the epub version of the play. Thomas Dekker 05 Nov 2009
  • (317.58 KB)
7 Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales; http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/ The Revenger's Tragedy: Thomas Middleton A blackly camp tragedy - Hamlet without the narcissism - set in a court corrupted by lust and self-interest, this play is both fascinated and repelled by its own depravity. Emma Smith 06 Nov 2009
  • (41.67 MB)
8 Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales; http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/ The revenger's tragedy The revenger's tragedy / Middleton, Thomas, 1580-1627. This is the epub edition of the play. Thomas Middleton 06 Nov 2009
  • (294.46 KB)
9 Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales; http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/ The Roaring Girl: Thomas Middleton and Thomas Dekker Based on a contemporary scandal of a woman who dressed in male clothing, this play of topsy-turvy genders has fun with some very modern ideas about sexuality, identity and whether we are what we wear. Emma Smith 13 Nov 2009
  • (44.18 MB)
10 Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales; http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/ The Roaring Girl or Moll Cutpurse The Roaring Girl or Moll Cutpurse / Thomas Dekker and Thomas Middleton. This is the epub edition of the play. Thomas Middleton, Thomas Dekker 13 Nov 2009
  • (660.17 KB)
11 Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales; http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/ The Duchess of Malfi: John Webster In dramatizing a woman's sexual choices in a notably sympathetic manner, this tragedy articulates perennial questions about female autonomy and class distinction. Emma Smith 24 Nov 2009
  • (34.5 MB)
12 Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales; http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/ The Duchess of Malfi The Duchess of Malfi / Webster, John, 1580?-1625. This is the epub edition of the play. John Webster 24 Nov 2009
  • (1.02 MB)