Tragedy Down the Ages

Home/ Tragedy Down the Ages
Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Discipline ElectiveSUS1EN2454

Semester and Year Offered: Winter semester 2012

Course Coordinator and Team:Sanju Thomas

Email of course coordinator:sanju[at]aud[dot]ac[dot]in

Pre-requisites: None

Aim: Tragedy as a form of drama has managed to survive through centuries though from ancient to modern times, it has undergone various changes. An undergraduate course on tragedy would involve reading representative texts from the ancient to modern times depicting different situations, leading to the same effect. A comparison of the different texts will highlight the variations that have come over the genre, and their underlying similarities. The course will also very broadly outline Sanskrit and Greek theatre, drama in the age of Renaissance and American drama.

Course Outcomes:At the end of the course students would be able to:

  1. Appreciate tragedy as a specific form
  2. Understand the concept of tragic vision.
  3. Trace changes the form has undergone from the ancient to modern times.
  4. Critically analyse drama in general and tragedy in particular.
  5. Appreciate tragedy in comparative traditions.
  6. Become self-learners as they will have to engage with texts and makepresentations on their own
  7. Learn from peers as they would be active, listeners and respondents to their presentations


Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

Module 1: Introduction to Tragedy: This module will introduce students to the concept of tragedy in dramatic literature. The following critical readings will be taken up for class discussion to give students an idea about what a tragedy is.

Module 2:Greek Tragedy: This module will introduce students to how the Greeks understood tragedy. This will be done not only through theoretical readings but largely through Greek tragedies written by Euripides and Sophocles. One of the following plays will be thoroughly discussed in class.

Module 3:Sanskrit Theatre: It is interesting to note that tragedy as a genre does not exist in Classical Indian dramatic tradition. Perhaps the only playwright who comes close to writing a tragedy is Bhasa. This module will thus deal with the absence of tragedy in the Indian tradition but will also discuss on of Bhasa’s plays in class.

Module 4:Renaissance Tragedy: Any course on tragedy would be incomplete if it does not engage with the Renaissance tragedy. Tragedy flourished in the hands of Elizabethans like Marlowe and Shakespeare. The module will thus discuss one of the following plays in class while referring to other plays to give a complete picture of the Renaissance tragedy.

Module 5: Modern Tragedy: Tragedy has evolved since the times of Aristotle. This change is most evident in the modern tragedy in the works of Miller, Strindberg, Habib Tanvir et al. The modern tragedy is the tragedy of the common man as against the exalted tragic hero of classical tragedy. This module will introduce students to this modern conception of tragedy by focussing on one of the following plays.

Assessment Details with weights:



Date/period in which Assessment will take place



Mid Semester Exam

As per academic calendar




Mid-September – Mid-November



End Semester Exam

As per academic calendar





  • Aristotle. Poetics. OUP, 2013. (Excerpts)
  • Miller, Arthur. “Tragedy and the Common Man.” The Theatre Essays of Arthur Miller. Viking Press. 1977.
  • Steiner, George. The Death of Tragedy. Oxford University Press, 1980. (Excerpts)
  • Euripides. Medeaand Other Plays. New Delhi: Penguin Books, 1963
  • Sophocles. “Oedipus Rex.” The Theban Plays. London: Penguin Books, 1947.
  • “Antigone” The Theban Plays. London: Penguin Books, 1947.
  • Bhasa. “Urubhangam.” The Shattered Thigh and Other Plays. New Delhi: Penguin Books, 1993.
  • Marlowe, Christopher. Dr Faustus. New York: Dover Publications. 1994. Print.
  • Shakespeare. Othello. Ed. Kenneth Muir. Middlesex: Penguin Books, 1968.
  • Hamlet. Eds. Ann Thompson and Neil Taylor. London: Arden Shakespeare, 2006. Print.
  • Romeo and Juliet. Ed. René Weis London: Arden Shakespeare, 2012. Print.
  • Macbeth. Ed. Kenneth Muir. London: Arden Shakespeare, 2001. Print.
  • King Lear. Ed. R. A. Foakes. London: Arden Shakespeare. 1997. Print.
  • Julius Caesar. Ed. David Daniell.London: Arden Shakespeare. 1998. Print.
  • Webster, John. The Duchess of Malfi. Ed. KajalSengupta. New Delhi: Orient Blackswan, 2009. Print.
  • Ibsen, Henrik. A Doll’s House. New York: Dover Publications. 1992. Print.
  • Miller, Arthur. “Death of a Salesman.” Arthur Miller’s Collected Plays. New Delhi: Allied Publishers Private Limited. 1973.
  • “All My Sons.” Arthur Miller’s Collected Plays. New Delhi: Allied Publishers Private Limited. 1973.
  • Strindberg, August. “Miss Julie”. Miss Julie and Other Plays. Trans. Michael Robinson. Oxford and NY: OUP, (1998), 2008.
  • Synge, J.M. Riders to the Sea. Ed. Siddhartha Biswas. Kolkata: Books Way, 2009.
  • Tanvir, Habib. CharandasChor (Charandas the Thief, 1974). Trans. AnjumKatyal. Calcutta: Seagull Books, 2004.



  • Aristotle. Poetics. New Delhi: OUP, 2013. Print.
  • Bradley, A C. Shakespearean Tragedy: Lectures on 'Hamlet' 'Othello', 'King Lear', 'Macbeth'. London and Basingstoke: Macmillan, I985. Print.
  • Callaghan, Dympna. “Woman and Gender in Renaissance Tragedy: A Study of "King Lear", "Othello", "The Duchess of Malfi" and "The White Devil"”. Atlantic Highlands. N.J.: Humanities Press, 1989. Print.
  • Dodds, E.R. “On Misunderstanding the Oedipus Rex.” Greece & Rome, Second Series, 13:1 (Apr., 1966). 37-49. Print.
  • Doloff, Steven. “Ibsen's “A Doll's House” and “The Dead””. James Joyce Quarterly, 31: 2 (Winter, 1994), 111-114. Print.
  • Halio, Jay L. Ed. Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet: Texts, Contexts, and Interpretation.
  • Newark: University of Delaware Press; London: Associated University Presses, 1995. Print.
  • Kott, Jan. The Eating of the Gods, New York: Random House, 1973.
  • Miller, Arthur. “Tragedy and the Common Man.” The Theatre Essays of Arthur Miller.Viking Press. New York: 1977. Print.
  • Mizener, Arthur. “The Tragedy of Marlowe's Doctor Faustus”. College English, Vol. 5, No. 2
  • (Nov.1943), 70-75. Print.
  • Musurillo, Herbert. “Euripides' Medea: A Reconsideration”. The American Journal of
  • Philology, Vol. 87, No. 1 (Jan., 1966), 52-74. Print
  • Oakes, Elizabeth. ““The Duchess of Malfi” as a Tragedy of Identity”. Studies in Philology,
  • Vol. 96, No. 1 (Winter, 1999), 51-67. Print.
  • Smith, Robert Metcalf. “Three Interpretations Of “Romeo And Juliet””. The Shakespeare Association Bulletin, Vol. 23, No. 2 (APRIL, 1948), 59-77. Print.
  • Smith, Warren D. “The Nature of Evil in “Doctor Faustus””. The Modern Language Review, 60: 2 (Apr., 1965), 171-175. Print.
  • Spencer, Benjamin T. “King Lear: A Prophetic Tragedy”. College English, 5:6. (Mar., 1944), 302-308. Print.
  • Steiner, George. The Death of Tragedy. New York: Oxford University Press, 1980.
  • Tamblyn, William Ferguson. “Tragedy in "King Lear"”. The Sewanee Review. 30:1. (Jan.,1922), 63-77. Print.
  • Templeton, Alice.““Miss Julie” as “A Naturalistic Tragedy”. Theatre Journal. 42: 4. Disciplines of Theater: Fin De Siècle Studies (Dec., 1990), 468-480. Print.