World Dramatic Literature: Staging Collapse: Greek and African-American Tragic Drama -- Writing Intensive and Diversity Intensive (traditional)

Greek and African-American Tragic Drama
ENGL 3170W
William Kerwin & Timothy Love
Course Description

           One of the most ambitious literary genres, tragic drama expresses the broadest imaginings of social breakdown and personal pain.  Those breakdowns are at a number of levels: in the cosmos, in the state, in the community, in the family, and in the individual psyche.  This course will look at tragedies from two cultures: ancient Greece, and modern America.  With the American tragedy we will look at plays by African-American playwrights, with an eye towards connections with the classical tradition, and towards what makes them a very different art and political form.  Greek and African-American tragic dramatists give us starkly different worlds, and they share many things, most centrally an exploration of suffering in all of its connections to forms of order. The second half of this course will take us into the deepest divisions in American culture. 

            For the Greek parts of the course we will read plays from Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides.  For the African-American parts we will read from authors such as August Wilson, Rita Dove, Suzan-Lori Parks, Amiri Baraka, James Baldwin, Leslie Lee, and Dael Orlandersmith.

            And don’t worry: amidst these tragic tales are deep moments of human beauty and solace.