On this module you will study and compare plays by Shakespeare and his contemporaries, in relation both to the theatres and audiences which staged and saw them, and the societies and social processes they represented. It is suitable for single honours English students who took Renaissance Drama in the second year and/or Shakespeare in the first year, as well as for joint honours English and Drama, and English and History students. You will see a production of a play by one of Shakespeare's contemporaries at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, the Jacobean-style indoor theatre now open alongside Shakespeare's Globe (ticket free of charge). The regular teaching will consist of two-week blocks comparing two plays in relation to general social processes such as courting and marrying, dying and mourning, and other more particular ones such as the making of witches. In each two-week block, the first week will be a 3-hour lecture discussion and the second week will be a two-hour seminar. You will work together in groups to prepare the seminar. We will deploy concepts from anthropology such as 'rites of passage', as well as concepts from theatre criticism and social history. So, for example, we might compare Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus and Hamlet as plays about death and mourning, Shakespeare's Macbeth and Marlowe's Doctor Faustus as plays about the social process of diabolical temptation, and the meanings and values of theatrical illusion. Other plays that may feature include Shakespeare's King Lear and Middleton's The Changeling, but the curriculum will vary each year depending on what is on at the Wanamaker theatre.