In this course, we look afresh at S’s tragedies with two ends in mind. First, to explore their frequently skeptical engagements with the orthodoxies (cultural, moral, political, poetic, religious, etc.) of life at the turn of the 17th century. Second, to explore the ways in which S reconceived tragedy as a medium through which to represent this world as truthfully as possible. We read S alongside a wide range of other sources, mainly early modern. Our main concern is to better understand the plays themselves, but we also think hard about questions of genre and about the relationship between literary theory and practice.