MUSC 230 Early Music and Drama In England, 1600-1800

Spring, Fall

This class will examine the rich musical history of the performing arts and theatre in sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth-century London. This was a period when theatre and opera worlds mixed, and fair-booth and musical theatre—the ancestors of English music hall and vaudeville—flourished at the expense of “legitimate” English drama. In this course we will study the various genres of English musical and theatrical forms, including stage jigs, ballets (both French and English), pantomimes, afterpieces, burlesques, ballad operas, pastiches, and various attempts at a native “serious” opera. Through primary source materials (original texts) and secondary scholarship, we will explore the eighteenth-century Shakespeare revival, the hegemony of Italian opera in London, the emerging idea of the “star” performer, music in English pleasure gardens, illegitimate theatre, the rise of popular music culture and marketing, and more. This period is also the start of the British Empire, and so we will consider English colonialism, imperialism, and identity as expressed in the country’s cultural production.

Readings for this course will combine historical scholarship with a sustained and substantive analysis of the literature, documents, plays, and music. Students will gain factual knowledge of the social and cultural dimensions of the era we study, as well as a broader understanding and appreciation of the dramatic and artistic texts of this era.

Degree Requirements