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English 311

Final Project

Due: Last Day of Class

For this project, you are going to do some research and write a paper. This project will extend your knowledge of drama from the Elizabethan and Jacobean periods, increase your understanding of culture and social context of those periods, and extend your perception of that world.

You will explore works that focus on people outside the mainstream (or at least the power structures of that society): people of color; Jews, Muslims, Catholics, or other religious outsiders; those with “non-mainstream” genders and sexualities; and women. Your paper will focus on the treatment of these, to use modern terms, marginalized or “othered” groups.

We still struggle with issues arising from such divisions, and they are at the forefront of United States’ society right now. Your paper should use your reading of the play and your research to build an argument how this new information complicates your appreciation and understanding of these plays and this time period and what you think it means about the place of these literary works in our modern world.

First, you will read one of the plays following plays:

The Jew of Malta

Edward II

The Masque of Blackness

The Duchess of Malfi

Richard II


The Merchant of Venice


 After reading your selected play, you will do research on the following to provide a solid background for your discussion: a.) the author; b.) the specifics of the time of its writing (a decade or so on either side), as in what are some important events, people, discoveries, scientific innovations, etc.; c.) the play’s reception over time (was it well-received in its own time; has its reputation changed over time; is it still something that is read often; is it still performed, etc.?); and d.) literary criticism that discusses the approach to these “othered” groups in the work. This research should provide a solid foundation for your paper.

Your paper should be around 1500 words (around 6 pages), and it should be formatted in MLA manuscript form and cited in MLA form. This is open-ended to some degree, so enjoy thinking through this.


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