Comparative Literature 258: Tragedy and Philosophy

TRAGEDY and PHILOSOPHY

Professor Anthony J. Cascardi
Department of Comparative Literature
UC Berkeley
Berkeley CA 94720

Syllabus

1. Introduction

2. Sophocles, Oedipus Rex: tragedy and the question of fate
Aristotle, Poetics
Plato, excerpts (photocopies)

3. Sophocles, Antigone: tragedy and the question of value conflict
Hegel on Antigone (photocopy)
Lacan on Antigone (photocopy)

4. Racine, Phèdre: neo-classical and early modern tragedy

5. Calderón, La vida es sueño: tragedy and the baroque
Walter Benjamin on the Trauerspiel

6. Shakespeare, Macbeth: tragedy, definition, and in-definition
Stephen Booth on Shakespeare (photocopy)

7. Shakespeare, Othello: tragedy and skepticism
Descartes, Meditations
Stanley Cavell, Claim of Reason

8. Tragedy and the Sublime
Kant, Critique of Judgment (photocopy)
Hume, “Tragedy” (photocopy)

9. Tragedy and/ as Opera (I): Monteverdi and Gluck, Orpheo
Ovid, Metamorphoses (on Orpheus)
Vergil, Georgics
Joseph Kerman, Opera as Drama

10-11. Tragedy and/as Opera (II): Tristan und Isolde
Wagner, Opera and Drama
Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy; Nietzsche contra Wagner
Zizek and Dolar, Opera’s Second Death

12. Hawthorne, Scarlet Letter: tragedy and/as the novel
(Or: Melville, Bully Budd)
Luther, The Bondage of the Will
Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism
Williams, Shame and Necessity

13. Beckett, Endgame: modern tragedy and the problem of ending
Cavell on Beckett from Must We Mean What We Say
Adorno on Beckett, from Notes on Literature

14. Tragedy after Auschwitz: Theodor Adorno, Negative Dialectics and Giorgio Agamben,
Adorno, Negative Dialectics
Agamben, Homo Sacer
Postscript: J. M. Bernstein on tragedy, sublimity, and horror

15. Summary / Review