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Title:Tragedy With a Vengeance: Violence, Vengeance and Identity From Attic Tragedy to Shakespeare
Author(s):Dodson-Robinson, Eric Andrew
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Blake, Nancy
Department / Program:Comparative and World Literature
Discipline:Comparative and World Literature
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Literature, Classical
Literature, Comparative
Literature, English
Abstract:This project explores the relation between violence and identity along one branch of the Western tragic tradition---from its roots in the soil of classical Attica, through Senecan tragedy, and into early modern drama in English. Classical and early modern tragedy is seductive in its sophisticated, savage portrayals of the relations between violence and who we are as human beings. In this study I explore these relations from a perspective that is both diachronic and psychoanalytic. My central argument is that throughout this tradition, violence defines identity.
My study engages with two important controversies: one is the question of the Western dramatic tradition: does such a tradition exist? If so, what are its continuities and discontinuities? The second is the validity of psychoanalytic readings of classical and early modern works and culture. I repeatedly argue against previous psychoanalytic readings of early modern and classical tragedy, but my approach throughout this work does more than dispute established interpretations of specific plays: what I challenge here is the psychoanalytic methodology of reading tragedy in terms of intrasubjective conflicts and logic: that is of reading the action on stage as an exclusively internal conflict between reason and passion or id and ego.
Lacanian theory was essential to this project, but equally essential was a determination to explore the tragedies comparatively and on their own terms in light of the vast cultural, dramaturgical, and axiological differences between Athens of the fifth-century BCE, Seneca's Rome, and Elizabethan London. Accordingly, questions of reception, tradition, and 'influence' are implicit in this study, the central object of which is the relation between violence and the construction of the self. Throughout this work I emphasize questions about violence and hereditary identity; the relation between violence, agency, and the divine order; the repetition of violence and retribution, and the roles of the other and of the social order in violence.
Issue Date:2009
Description:226 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2009.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI3362770
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-17
Date Deposited:2009

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