My Tragic Lesson Plan

I’m looking at my notes for today’s lesson on the final two acts of King Lear in English Literature Survey course, and I believe that if I made a list of the six most interesting bits I wanted to get to, I’d have missed five of them.  I know we were there for seventy-five minutes, but I really can’t remember what ate up that much time.

What we did have was an interesting discussion on tragedy as a dramatic genre.  I first went over the Aristotelian formulation and told them to put that on the shelf–more than likely Bill the Bard didn’t have access to it.  Then we talked, starting with Greek tragedy and working our way through Roman and into the Renaissance revenge tragedy, about Nietzshce’s theory (I forgot to mention Nietzsche, which I will do next time, but I did use his categories) that tragedy as a genre pulls the elements of Dionysian song, which internalizes and surrenders to chaos, into conflict with Apollonian statuary, which hold chaos at a distance for the sake of walling it off.  In our class this took the shape of a discussion on justice and whether the Stoic, Machiavellian, Augustinian, and commercial could ever work together.  Now that I think of it, that discussion ranged over most of the class, so perhaps I can forgive myself for the five good bits I lost.

Thursday we start with Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus (remember, we’re moving backwards in time), so I should have plenty of opportunity to dig into the Nietzschean theories then.


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Filed under Shakespeare, teaching

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