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Unit information: Tragedy and Self in 2015/16

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Unit name Tragedy and Self
Unit code CLAS37020
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Lampe
Open unit status Not open
Pre-requisites

None,

Co-requisites

None

School/department Department of Classics & Ancient History
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description

Why does Iphigenia in Euripides' Iphigenia at Aulis strike Aristotle as an implausible character? When Odysseus asks Sophocles' Philoctetes, “Give me yourself,” what is Philoctetes supposed to give? These questions provoke us to think about what makes someone who they are. In fact the reception of Greek tragedy has been instrumental in the formulation of theories of selfhood, subjectivity, and identity. Hence in this unit we will be able simultaneously to develop more sophisticated ways of understanding what makes us who we are and richer enjoyment of some of antiquity's most famous dramas. We will also sample modern cinema and drama, including Jean-Paul Sartre's The Flies, Charles Mee's Orestes 2.0, Philip K. Dick's A Scanner Darkly, and Slavoj Zizek's The Pervert's Guide to Cinema. (Please note that Mee's Orestes contains graphic material.)

The aims of the unit are to:

  • familiarise students with key concepts for discussing “selfhood” and “identity” in modern philosophy and critical theory and to develop competence in their application
  • introduce students to several ancient perspectives and theories regarding “selfhood,” “belonging,” and “character”
  • develop a detailed and thoughtful acquaintance with selected works of Greek, Roman, and modern tragedy and use these ancient and modern conceptualizations of selfhood/identity to enrich an appreciation of these classical works
  • to develop skills in oral and written communication.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students should:

  • be familiar with key concepts for discussing “selfhood” and “identity” in modern philosophy and critical theory and be competent in their application
  • be familiar with several ancient perspectives and theories regarding “selfhood,” “belonging,” and “character”
  • have a more detailed and thoughtful acquaintance with selected works of Greek, Roman, and modern tragedy and be able to use these ancient and modern conceptualizations of selfhood/identity to enrich their appreciation of these classical works
  • have had opportunities to sharpen their understanding of all of these things in seminar conversations, oral presentations, and written assignments.

Teaching details

Seminars

Assessment Details

One essay of 3,000 words (50%) and one examination of 2 hours (50%).

Reading and References

  • Euripides, Iphigenia in Aulis. Trans. C. Walker. Chicago.
  • Mee, C. L. (1993) Orestes, Performing Arts Journal 15.3: 29-79
  • Heinrich von Kleist, Penthesilea. Trans. M. Greenberg. Yale.
  • Sophocles, Philoctetes. Trans. D. Grene. Chicago.

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