We’re eager to share Early Modern English Drama (EMED) with your students, including in college and graduate school. EMED is both a source of play texts to read and compare to others, and a new resource for digital humanities research. Below you’ll find the beginnings of a collection of pedagogical resources devoted to early modern English plays and playwrights beyond Shakespeare and intriguing new ways to explore them through digital humanities (DH) approaches. This page is envisioned as a collaborative space to which you too can contribute approaches and lesson plans. We can’t wait to hear from you!

New ways to explore early modern English drama

Each Early Modern English Drama documentary edition represents a single material playbook (one witness). These early printed witnesses offer many exciting pedagogical opportunities: they can be used to introduce issues of textual editing, unsettle students’ expectations of early modern drama, serve as a starting point for exploring early modern print practice, and much more. Try comparing these texts to a modern edition to challenge the idea of a “finished” version of the play, or give students a scene to perform or edit.

Documentary editions, with all their problematic spelling, layout, punctuation, and apparatus (or lack thereof) give agency to the modern reader. We hope these editions can empower students to take ownership of the texts. The translation from dramatic performance to printing house always complicates the text, and the resulting messiness offers undergraduates paths into conversations about textual transmission and print house practice. Unlike their Norton or Arden editions, these documentary editions rarely have cast lists, reliable act and scene divisions, or entrances and exits for all characters. Lines may be misattributed; set as prose when they’re verse or verse when they’re prose; or may not line up with the given stage directions. We invite students to create editions of a scene or whole play, to discover new plays to read or perform, or to plot connections among the printers and publishers of early modern London.

We are still growing! Watch this space for more lesson plans, and get in touch if you would like to share your own experience of using EMED in the classroom.

Exercises and modeling use of EMED

Editing Massinger’s The Renegado
EMED documentary editions offer many opportunities for engagement with editorial practice and theory. This case study allows users of the EMED site to try out editorial decision-making by modeling manuscript and print differences across different copies of the same text.

Performance and Publication in 1594
This bibliography pulls together online and print resources relating to theatrical production on stage and page in 1594.

Lesson plans

Complicating Prose and Verse
Lesson plan for the undergraduate classroom: explore verse and prose in Shakespeare’s As You Like It, Marlowe’s Massacre at Paris, and Middleton’s The puritan; or, the widow of Watling-Street (also available as a PDF)

Student-Created Network-Driven Editions (PDF)
Lesson plan for the undergraduate classroom, focusing on using metadata to reconstruct networks between the producers and performers of plays in the early modern period.