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Courses / Modules / ENGL3111 Playmakers, or, How to Have Fun in Early Modern England

Playmakers, or, How to Have Fun in Early Modern England

When you'll study it
Semester 2
CATS points
ECTS points
Level 6
Module lead
Callan Davies
Academic year

Module overview

This module asks: How can the different places and ways people had fun in the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries shape the way we read literature today? Early modern England had a vibrant entertainment scene that was not limited to the likes of the Globe on Bankside. The creative and business minds behind this leisure industry included people of all backgrounds from across the country, who created, supported, or managed entertainments. These “playmakers” offered visitors a remarkable diversity of play, from countryside Olympic games to animal sport, fencing, and what we might now call stand-up comedy. These forms of play were often driven by powerful and innovative businesswomen, necessitated more-than-human theatricality, and physically and conceptually transformed England’s geography in ways we still live with today. In this module, students travel to and beyond the stage to explore sites of entertainment across the country that take in these many different forms. We will discover new ways to appreciate what was “popular” and so challenge the literary canon of the so-called “Renaissance.” In doing so, students will recognise different “actors” involved in early modern cultural production—from female proprietors to performers of colour to named animals like Chester the bear. Students will experience different forms of evidence for the cultural activities of early modern individuals. We will also explore the benefits of close reading a wide variety of textual forms and genres.