The purpose of this course is to explore the nature, function and themes of classical Greek, Roman and Elizabethan drama in their theatrical, historical and social contexts. Through the detailed study of the texts by the selected dramatists such as Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, Seneca, Plautus, Shakespeare, Marlowe, and Webster, the course traces the development of the key features of tragedy and comedy. Ancient opinions on drama, in particular the views of Plato and Aristotle and their influence on classical drama will also be investigated. A comprehensive and critical background to mythology, drama and society is given in the beginning of the course to prepare students to undertake close reading and analyses of the selected texts.

The first section of the course will focus on representative classical plays which have influenced the development of drama as a genre. It will introduce students to the history of classical Greek and Roman drama and motivate them to explore how the selected texts can be interpreted in the modern context. Special emphasis will be given in the seminars to examine the role and significance of mythology in Greek drama, the importance of festivals in Greek society, the structure of Greek tragedy, and the difference between tragedy and comedy. 

The second section focuses on the selective plays of William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, and John Webster. Through a critical scrutiny of the recommended plays, students will be made to appreciate the variety and imaginative exuberance of drama written in the age that popularized cultural profundity, humanist tendencies, philosophical excavations and artistic excellence. Qualities such as the poetic richness, absorbing plots and vivid portrayal of characters will be highlighted to catch the true spirit of renaissance. Through a selection of plays, this section highlights the characteristic features of various dramatic forms like tragedy, comedy, and history, and their variations.