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C LIT 320 C: Studies In European Literature

Meeting Time: 
MW 10:30am - 12:20pm
MEB 235
Jingsi Shen

Syllabus Description:

Tragedy and its afterlives: King Oedipus and Antigone
Tragedy is a fluid form. Many descriptive and prescriptive frameworks have been imposed upon it at one time or another. But tragedy keeps exceeding those frames to have a life of its own. In times of crises in particular, people like to turn to ancient tragic drama for inspiration. German thinkers of the 18th and 19th century, for instance, reflected upon the modern era and its separation from (and relation to) the ancient in terms of the tragic. In a more modern, and despite or because of which, more savage world, we have seen yet again numerous re-translations and re-adaptations of old tragedies. Bertolt Brecht, Seamus Heaney, Anne Carson, for instance, all have their own versions of Antigone. More than an objective entity encompassing a body of texts with (more or less) similar features, tragedy is also something that we think with. It is always being recycled and reinvented because there is a need, an almost human need, to talk about ourselves and our living world in its terms.
This class focuses on the study of tragedy, with its ancient forms and later metamorphoses. We will use two specific texts for case study: King Oedipus and Antigone. Readings include Sophocles's original plays and later renditions and interpretations of these texts. For instance, we will read Kleist’s comedy The Broken Jug, a literary descendent of King Oedipus, Anne Carson’s translation, or rather, rewriting of Antigone, and Judith Butler’s analysis of the character Antigone. On the other hand, we will also read some theories of tragedy to have an idea of how people have thought of this literary form differently across time. Readings in this regard might include Aristotle’s canonical text and selections from other theorists. In this class, we hope to gain a general knowledge of tragedy as a genre, and to seek reasons behind its versatility and persistence. 
Required textbooks:
The Three Theban Plays, trans. Robert Fagles
Antigonik by Anne Carson
Poetics, trans. Anthony Kenny
Other readings, including Kleist’s Broken Jug and secondary materials, will be made available on canvas.
Catalog Description: 
Examination of the development of European literature in a variety of genres and periods. Possible areas of study include literature from romantic fiction of early nineteenth century through great realist classics of second half of the century or from symbolism to expressionism and existentialism.
Department Requirements Met: 
Literature Core
GE Requirements Met: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Last updated: 
October 23, 2019 - 1:28pm