Ben Jonson

English, School of English, Drama and American & Canadian Studies

College of Arts and Law


Code 20091

Level of study Third/Final year

Credit value 20

Semester 2

Module description

This module will be centred on detailed analysis of the writing and career of Ben Jonson. The emphasis may vary from year to year, but normally students will leave the module having spent time thinking in detail about examples of the many kinds of Jonson's writing in drama (eg Every Man in his Humour, The Alchemist), poetry (eg Epigrams, "To Penshurst"), masque (eg The Masque of Blackness, The Masque of Queens) and prose (eg Discoveries), and about the development of that writing across his career. The expectation is that one substantial text will form the centre of each week's work (eg a play, a masque, or a collection of poems); this will be complemented by shorter, contrasting or contemporary texts. Whichever texts are prescribed for a given year, however, they will always be studied in relation to their social and political contexts, their performance and publication conditions (where appropriate), and the dramatic and other conventions within which they were created. Opportunity will also exist to think about the physical forms in which Jonson circulated his writing, drawing where appropriate on the resources of the University library's Special Collections. Students will be expected to supplement their knowledge of the texts discussed in seminars by reading more widely (and often as directed) in the writings of Jonson's contemporaries.