Born the same year as Shakespeare, the son of a Canterbury shoemaker ended up taking academic degrees at Cambridge, but appears to have worked as a spy as well. He was famous for his ”mighty line” (Ben Jonson) and infamous for being in trouble with the authorities (he was arrested under suspicion of murder in 1589), for being an atheist and a blasphemer. In 1593, Christopher Marlowe was stabbed in a pub brawl. It’s not surprising, then, that his works appear more contradictory than those of most of his Renaissance colleagues. As an introduction, this seminar will deal with examples of Marlowe’s poetry and then analyse the structure and contexts of his plays (Tamburlaine, The Jew of Malta, Doctor Faustus,Edward the Second and The Massacre at Paris), including the concepts of the overreacher, Machiavelianism and religion.