When we think of Renaissance theater, male playwrights like William Shakespeare and Ben Jonson spring to mind. But we rarely think about plays that woman of the period wrote, many of which not only enjoyed popularity in their day, but also reflected feminine perspectives on political issues as well as the gender constraints of their patriarchal society. This course will explore how women playwrights compared to their male counterparts, what their political views were, what rhetorical strategies they used to express feminist views, and changes in the reception of women dramatists from the early to late Renaissance. Each week will consider a play by a different female author in chronological order: Lady Mary Herbert, Countess of Pembroke (Mary Sidney)’s The Tragedy of Antonie (1578), Lady Elizabeth Cary, Viscountess, Falkland’s The Tragedy of Mariam (1613), Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle’s The Convent of Pleasure (1668), and Aphra Behn’s The Rover (1677). All texts are available online.