Module supervisor: Jonathan Lichtenstein Module tutors: Annecy Lax (Autumn); Elizabeth Kuti (Spring)




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TH 243 Tragedy Module Outline 2012-13


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TH 243 Tragedy, 2012-13

Module supervisor: Jonathan Lichtenstein

Module tutors: Annecy Lax (Autumn); Elizabeth Kuti (Spring)



Contact details: Annecy Lax annecylax@gmail.com


In Spring term: Liz Kuti

Room 5a.217

tel: 873408

ejkuti@essex.ac.uk


Where and when: Mondays, 10-1pm in T.C. 2.1

Module Outline



We are not looking for a new universal meaning of tragedy. We are looking for the structure of tragedy in our own culture.’


Raymond Williams, Modern Tragedy.


This course examines the idea of Tragedy in the theatre, tracing its development from classical Greek tragedy to the present day. The texts that have been chosen both acknowledge and question Aristotle's Poetics. The module explores the extent to which Aristotle’s theories still articulate enduringly useful ideas about tragedy; and the extent to which they have been modified, altered, played with and rejected by playwrights over the ages. We ask whether there is an essential and timeless set of qualities that constitutes ‘tragic drama’, or whether notions of ‘tragedy’ are contingent on social and historical circumstances. We look at private and domestic tragedies, as well as public and political tragedies ‘of state’, from different periods, examining the connection between the two. The module also investigates how playwrights have adapted tragic forms and structures to make theatre that explores suffering and catastrophe in ways that speak most powerfully to their audiences. Using Aristotle’s Poetics as a starting-point, the module also aims to explore what the effect is on the audience member when watching a tragic play.


There will be a 2 hour examination in the summer term, in preparation for which we will have 2 revision classes in weeks 30 and 31 (Mondays April 22nd and 29th 2013).


The Practical assignment for this course is the writing of a short tragedy in the Spring term, with a playing time of approximately ten minutes. Students will be asked to work in pairs and to follow the timetable set out below.


1) By Week 5, the pairs will be announced and will be expected to begin writing their own play.

2) During Weeks 18 and 19 of Spring term each pair will have a tutorial/workshop session with Liz Kuti to assess the progress of their script.

3) In Weeks 24 and 25 of Spring term all the tragedies will be read in class to the rest of the group. Students will perform in each other’s work which will allow writers to listen to their own plays.

4) Students will then be expected to make any changes/revisions to their script, in the light of the reading and post-reading discussion, and then submit their final version of the script on the first day of the Summer Term (Monday 22nd April 2013, Week 30 – to Penny, not via online course submission). This will be accompanied by a reflective commentary, written individually, of 1500-2000 words.




Assessment Summary





  1. 25% Essay number 1 (2,500 – 3,000 words). Submit online: by 10am Friday 7th December, 2012 and hard copy to office by 4pm. (week 10).

  2. 45% Practical assignment. This is composed as follows: 30% for script written in pairs (a tragic play of approximately 10 minutes’ playing time); plus 15% for accompanying critical commentary of 1500-2000 words, written individually. Submit both script and reflection to Penny Woollard, Week 30, by 4pm on Monday April 22nd 2013.

  3. 25% Examination (2 hours) in summer term.

  4. 5% participation



Coursework deadlines



Autumn Term

Essay number 1: Online submission: 4pm on Friday 7th December (Week 10).

Return date: Monday 14th January, 2013.


Spring Term

Practical (tragic play script). Submit final text of script plus accompanying critical commentary to Penny Woollard (on paper) by 4pm on Monday April 22nd 2013 (NOT online).

Return date: Monday 6th May, 2013.


Summer Term

Examination (2 hours) during exam period.


Essay writing


Your essays are expected to follow the Departmental Style Guide and may be penalised if they do not: http://www.essex.ac.uk/lifts/resources/StyleGuide.pdf


The Departmental Handbooks contain marking criteria, which provide a useful guide as to what markers are looking for in essays: http://www.essex.ac.uk/lifts/resources/handbooks.aspx.


Submission of essays


All essays must be submitted online in the first instance. Please see website for instructions on how to submit essays online: https://courses.essex.ac.uk/ocs/


Follow the instructions for online submission, making sure that you have a

watermarked copy to print out and submit by 4pm on the following day to the administrator in the General Office (5A.201) with a completed essay cover sheet which may be accessed at

http://courses.essex.ac.uk/lt/documents


Make sure you attach your essay cover sheet to your work, and sign it. BRING YOUR REGISTRATION CARD WITH YOU.


If you are obliged to send your printed essay by post, keep a copy of it, and send it by Recorded Delivery.


Essays will be returned to you via the General Office in order for the marks to be recorded. You may expect to collect marked essays within four weeks of submission (during termtime).


Week by week schedule


Autumn Term:


Week 2: Introduction to Module, and to Tragedy. Aristotle’s Poetics.


Week 3: Classical tragedy: Antigone by Sophocles.


Week 4: Classical tragedy: Medea by Euripides.


Week 5: Workshop/scene studies: Medea and Antigone.


Week 6: Political Tragedy 1: Macbeth by William Shakespeare.


Week 7: Political tragedy 2: Stuff Happens by David Hare.


Week 8: 20th century critical debates about tragedy: The Death of Tragedy (Steiner); Modern Tragedy (Raymond Williams). [Photocopied readings to be provided]


Week 9: Private tragedy 1: Blackbird by David Harrower


Week 10: Private tragedy 2: A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams.


Week 11: Workshop session/scene studies: Streetcar/Blackbird.


Spring Term


Week 16: Families, secrets and ghosts 1: Ghosts by Henrik Ibsen. Seminar.


Week 17: Ghosts by Henrik Ibsen. Workshop.


Week 18: Script tutorials with student playwrights.


Week 19: Script tutorials with student playwrights.


Week 20: Families, secrets and ghosts 2: Festen by David Eldridge.


Week 21: Guilt, blame and responsibility 1: Copenhagen by Michael Frayn. Seminar/workshop.


Week 22: Guilt, blame and responsibility 2: After the Fall by Arthur Miller. Seminar/Workshop.


Week 23: The end of genre? Happy Days by Samuel Beckett.


Week 24: Readings/workshopping of tragedies written by students.


Week 25: Readings/workshopping of tragedies written by students


Summer Term:


Week 30: Revision session.


Week 31: Revision session.


Primary reading list


Aristotle. Poetics. Translated by Kenneth McLeish. London: Nick Hern Books, 1999. In library: PN. 1040.


Beckett, Samuel. Happy Days. London: Faber and Faber, 2010. PR. 6003. E3H2.


Eldridge, David. Festen. London: Methuen, 2004. PR. 6055.L3.


Euripides. Medea. Translated by J.Michael Walton. London: Methuen 2002. PA.3973.M4.


Frayn, Michael. Copenhagen. London: Methuen, 2003. In library: PR.6056. R2.


Hare, David. Stuff Happens. London: Faber and Faber, 2006.


Harrower, David. Blackbird. London: Faber and Faber, 2006. PR. 6058.A72.


Ibsen, Henrik. Ghosts. A new version by Amelia Bullmore. London: Methuen, 2007. PT. 8865 only at East 15.


Williams, Tennessee. A Streetcar named Desire. Methuen Student Edition, 1994.


Miller, Arthur. After the Fall in Plays: Two. London: Methuen, 1994. PS.3525.156M5.


Shakespeare, William. Macbeth. Ed. A.R. Braunmuller. Cambridge University Press, 2008.PR. 2823.A1.


Sophocles. Antigone. Translated by Don Taylor, London: Methuen Student Edition, 2006. PA.4413.A7.


[SUMMARY:

Autumn Term texts: Poetics; Antigone; Medea; Macbeth; Stuff Happens; Blackbird; A Streetcar named Desire.

Spring Term texts: Festen; Ghosts; Copenhagen; After the Fall; Happy Days.]


Secondary reading list


Very useful secondary sources:


The Cambridge Companion to Tragedy by Jennifer Wallace (Cambridge and NY: Cambridge University Press, 2007). Highly recommended.


Tragedy: Developments in Criticism. Ed. R.P. Draper. Palgrave Macmillan Casebook Series, 1988. (I recommend that you buy a copy if possible.) In library: PN 1892.


Also, Adrian Poole’s Tragedy: A Very Short Introduction (Blackwell, 2008. PN 1892.B8) is also useful.


Other recommended reading:

Bushnell, Rebecca W. Tragedy: A Short Introduction. Blackwell: 2008. PN 1892. B8.


Dukakis, John and Naomi Conn Lieder. Tragedy. Longman Critical Reader, 1998. PN. 1892.


Eagleton, Terry. Sweet Violence: The Idea of the Tragic. Oxford: Blackwell, 2003. PN. 605.T7.


Girard, Rene. Violence and the Sacred. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1977. BL. 600.


Kerr, Walter. Tragedy and Comedy. London: Bodley Head, 1968. PN 1655.


Mamet, David. Three Uses of the Knife: On the Nature and Purpose of Drama. London: Methuen, 2002. PN. 1631. M2.


Nietzsche, Friedrich. The Birth of Tragedy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000. B.3313.G4.


Nuttall, A.D. Why Does Tragedy Give Pleasure?


Lucas, F.L. Tragedy in Relation to Aristotle’s Poetics. London: Hogarth Press, 1927. PN. 1892.


Regal, Martin S. Tragedy. Routledge, 2008. Ordered.


Silk, M.S. Tragedy and the Tragic: Greek Theatre and Beyond. Oxford: Clarendon press, 1996. PA. 3131.


Steiner, George. The Death of Tragedy. New York: Knopf, 1963. PN 1892.


Wiles, David. Tragedy in Athens: Performance Space and Theatrical Meaning. PA 3201.W5.


Williams, Raymond. Modern Tragedy. London: Chatto and Windus, 1969. PN. 779.T7.


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