Tragedy in Modernity

Term: Fall 2009

Subject Code: GPHI

Course Number: 6631

The philosophical view that something can be learned from tragedy, and that insight can arise through tragic experience, depends upon a consequential separation of deed from recognition—which Aristotle calls "plot," and which Hegel has in mind when he notes that "reality stems from the action itself and results from it." This seminar explores—through the study of modern tragic predicaments in which the consequential separation of deed from recognition is denied or foreclosed—the limits of philosophical accounts of tragedy that take this view, and which symptomatically take Sophocles' tragedies as their chief model. Having explored these limits, we think about whether we might grasp tragedy in modernity not as a process of learning, but as endurance; as acknowledgment rather than progression; as the foreclosure, not the emergence, of new realities. Readings may include texts by Aristotle, Hegel, Herder, Kierkegaard, Benjamin, Bradley, Adorno, Szondi and Kristeva alongside works by Sophocles, Shakespeare, Racine, and Büchner.

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