Teaching French Neoclassical Tragedy
Tragedy has been reborn many times since antiquity. Seventeenth-century French playwrights composed tragedies marked by neoclassical aesthetics and the divine-right absolutism of the grand siècle. But their works also speak to the modern imagination, inspiring reactions from Barthes, Derrida, and Foucault, adaptations and reworkings by Césaire and Kushner, and new productions by francophone and anglophone directors.
This volume addresses both the history of French neoclassical tragedy—its audiences, performance practice, and development as a genre—and the ideas these works raise, such as necessity, free will, desire, power, and moral behavior in the face of limited choices. Essays demonstrate ways to teach the plays through a variety of lenses, such as performance, spectatorship, aesthetics, rhetoric, and affect. The book also explores postcolonial engagement, by writers and directors both in and outside France, with these works.
"An invaluable resource for teachers bringing French neoclassical theater to the classroom, this book contains excellent, concrete suggestions for activities that encourage student engagement and communication." —Roland Racevskis, University of Iowa
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