The Purpose of this Blog

Your task on this blog is to write a brief summary of what we learned in class today. Include enough detail so that someone who was ill or missed the lesson can catch up with what they missed. Over the course of the term, these 'class scribe' posts will grow to be a guide book for the course, written by students for students.

With each post ask yourself the following questions:
1) Is this good enough for our guide book?
2) Will your post enable someone who wasn't here to catch up?
3) Would a graphic/video/link help to illustrate what we have learned?

Monday, 14 November 2011

Embedding Ideas about Tragedy

This lesson focused on AO3:

Explore connections and comparisons between different literary texts, informed by interpretations of other readers.

In particular, the skill being developed was:
- Applying concepts of ‘tragedy’ to both texts

The following 'Aspects of Tragedy' were referred to throughout:

Tragic hero
Uncoiling of spring
Tragic flaw
Modern domestic tragedy
Classical tragedy
Tragic inevitability

A link was made to the next unit, 'Aspects of Narrative', which explores aspects in common in narrative, for example beginnings and character development.

Looking at eight different quotations linked to tragedy, students noted their initial impressions, which aspects were relevant and how this idea can be applied to Streetcar.

A C Bradley, Shakespearean Tragedy (1904)
‘What we do feel strongly, as tragedy advances to its close, is that calamities and catastrophe follow inevitably from the deeds of men, and that the main source of these deeds is character.’

Arthur Miller, ‘Tragedy and the Common Man’ (1949)
‘It is time, I think, that we who are without kings, took up this bright thread of our history and followed it to the only place it can possibly lead in our time – the heart and spirit of the average man.’
‘I believe that the common man is as apt a subject for tragedy in its highest sense as kings were.’

Sean McEvoy, Tragedy: A Student Handbook (2009)
‘the tragic protagonist must be someone who is prepared to devote themselves to some idea or notion, which may range from a political or economic belief to the simple need for utter personal integrity in a world which demands compromises.’
‘in modern tragedy, the protagonist’s very ordinariness may also make him or her able to stand for a wider class of people, and their political views: women, the working class, and other racial groups who have struggled for emancipation during the 20th century.’

Aristotle, ‘On the Art of Poetry’ (330BC)
‘Tragedy, then, is a representation of an action that is worth serious attention, complete in itself, and of some amplitude... presented in the form of action, not narration; by means of pity and fear bringing about the purgation of such emotions.’

J A Cuddon, A Dictionary of Literary Terms (1976)
‘the tragedy, having aroused powerful feelings in the spectator, has a therapeutic effect; after the storm and climax there comes a release from tension, a calm.’

Terry Eagleton, Sweet Violence (2003)
Interpreting catharsis as the purpose of tragedy makes it ‘a kind of public therapy for those in the citizenry in danger of emotional flabbiness ... Tragedy is thus an instrument for regulating social feeling ... a refuse dump for socially undesirable emotions, or at least a retraining programme.’

Felicia H Londre, ‘A Streetcar Running Fifty Years’ in M C Roudane, The Cambridge Companion to Tennessee Williams (1997)
Williams ‘intended a balance of power between Blanche and Stanley, to show that both are complex figures whose wants and behaviours must be understood in the context of what is at stake for them.’

These ideas are valuable because they offer interesting critical ideas about tragedy and Streetcar. However, to make this value work for us, we need to weave the ideas into our writing. This is a writing tool for us to develop and add to our toolkit. By weaving in contextual references (AO4) and critical concepts of tragedy (AO3), our writing will be improved.

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