Thinking through tragedy: critical distance and the law of genre

Journal for Cultural Research 21 (4):368-382 (2017)

This article focuses on two problems associated with tragedy. One ancient: what is it that draws us to the dramatic presentation of events of terrible suffering and loss? And one modern: namely, that while tragedies are still performed and appreciated, little new tragedy is being written. It will be argued in relation to the second problem that the vitality of tragedy as a dramatic form requires a less rigid approach to what might be considered tragic. And in relation to the first problem it will be argued that this more expansive conception of tragedy will allow an understanding of the ‘pay-off’ of tragedy in a way that draws both on the tradition that focuses on tragedy as cathartic therapeutic, and on the tradition that sees it as a thought laboratory that allows ethical dilemmas to be posed and explored from different perspectives. This argument constitutes a two-fold dialectical synthesis and the effect of this is to facilitate an understanding of tragedy as establishing a ‘critical distance’ that sets the scene for the possibility of thinking.
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DOI 10.1080/14797585.2017.1370488
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The World as Will and Representation.Lewis White Beck - 1958 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 20 (2):279-280.

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