CLAS 202
Greek Tragedy Spring 2024
Division I Difference, Power, and Equity
Cross-listed COMP 220 / THEA 220
This is not the current course catalog

Class Details

Ancient Greek tragedy was a cultural phenomenon deeply embedded in its 5th-century Athenian context, yet it is also a dramatic form that resonates powerfully with 21st-century artists and audiences. This course examines tragedy on both levels. We will read such plays as Aeschylus’ Agamemnon, Sophocles’ Electra, and Euripides’ Medea in English translation, considering their literary and dramatic features as well as their relationship to civic, social, and ritual contexts. We will discuss such topics as the construction of gender and identity on the dramatic stage, the engagement between tragedy and other literary genres, and the distinctive styles of the three major Athenian playwrights. We will also survey a set of recent productions and adaptations of these plays, with a particular focus on how modern playwrights and producers use Greek tragedy to explore justice, power, race, gender, status, and sexuality. We will consider how a dramatic form largely produced by and for Athenian citizen men became a creative resource for a remarkably diverse range of 21st-century artists, and explore how modern productions offer fresh perspectives on ancient material. All readings will be in English.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 25
Expected: 25
Class#: 3531
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: class participation, several essays, brief oral presentations
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: Classics, Comp Lit, and Theater majors; first-years; sophomores
Distributions: Division I Difference, Power, and Equity
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
CLAS 202 Division I COMP 220 Division I THEA 220 Division I
DPE Notes: This course considers the questions of justice and power central to the performance of tragedy in the ancient Greek world, as well as the manifold ways in which 21st-century artists have used Greek drama to explore the modern construction of race, gender, class, and sexuality. Students will also examine how theater can operate both as a form of institutional power and as a space for exposing, critiquing, and reimagining dominant cultural narratives.

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