I'm teaching a class this coming term on early modern English history plays. I'm excited, and a bit nervous, since there are a ton of plays I haven't taught before on the syllabus.
I keep looking at the syllabus and thinking about how I'm arranging it.
I started off with the plays in chronological order of probable writing/performance. That's useful in terms of theatrical history. But most of my students aren't likely to be really strong in terms of political history, so how confusing is it to read, say, a play about Richard III before a play about Richard II?
And theatrical history-wise, will my students really make strong distinctions between plays written for the Theatre and plays written for the Globe? I don't, generally. How about Blackfriars? (And we'll be doing plays written as much for other theaters/conditions.)
So, I'm thinking of organizing sort of broadly in theatrical history terms:
I'm also thinking of having a short student presentation for each play: a five minute introduction to the writer (when known), early production history, publication history, maybe contextual stuff?
Maybe another quick introduction to the historical figure(s) in the play.
And then a longer discussion leading group who will be responsible for choosing a couple passages they want to talk about. I haven't felt particularly successful with getting students to lead discussions in the past, so I'm thinking that asking them to focus on a couple of passages they think are really interesting, and then working through those passages together with their questions and ideas might work. Ideas, folks?
I've never done a class with so many non-single author plays before!