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Few stories have been reprised with the same urgency and ingenuity as the classical tragedy Antigone (ca. 442-441 BCE), the first drafted but last in narrative order of the Theban plays by Sophocles (496-406 BCE). Even before the 4th century BCE had closed, Euripides ventured a rewrite. It would be difficult—regrettably—to find a more relevant or necessary moment to revisit the play than right now. This seminar will engage myriad versions of the tragedy and survey a substantial selection of criticism, moving erratically from antiquity to the present, across national borders. Issues for discussion will include the police state and political dissent, divine law and dis/order, agency versus destiny, tears in the fabric of time, the foundations of community, the ethics of civic and family life, kinship studies, gender and racial dynamics, mourning and melancholy, and the history of friendship in Western thought. We will view the play variously, from the vantages of feminism, Marxism, psychoanalysis, and post-colonialism. English doctoral student Shamala Gallagher will accompany us through Ondaatje, while Dr. Martin Kagel of the German Department will visit the seminar on Brecht.




Beyond the Greek original (in English translation), we will study modern and contemporary renditions by Jean Anouilh (France), Bertolt Brecht (Germany), Anne Carson (Canada), Athol Fugard (South Africa), Griselda Gambaro (Argentina), Sara Uribe (Mexico), Mac Wellman (U.S.), and Slavoj Žižek (Slovenia). Among the critics and theorists we’ll confront are Judith Butler, G.W.F. Hegel, Luce Irigaray, and Jacques Lacan. We will also explore the novels Anil’s Ghost by Sri Lankan writer Michael Ondaatje and Home Fire by Pakistani author Kamila Shamsie, as well as screening The Cannibals by Italian film director Liliana Cavani.