課程表包括了Aeschylus (譯註：西元前525~456 希臘悲劇詩人) 偉大的三部曲《The Oresteia》、沙弗克利斯(譯註：西元前495~406 希臘悲劇詩人)兩部戲劇(安蒂岡妮》以及《伊底帕斯》)、Euripides (譯註：西元前480~406 希臘悲劇詩人) 一部戲劇 《Hippolytus》、有關蘇格拉底死亡的兩篇柏拉圖對話錄、莎士比亞的兩部劇作 (《馬克白》以及《李爾王》)、巴爾札克的小說《高老頭》、梅爾維爾的小說《Benito Cereno》、康拉德的《黑暗之心》; 易卜生的戲劇《傀儡家庭》、費茲傑羅的《大亨小傳》、Isaak Dinesen的短篇小說《Sorrow-Acre》以及卡繆的《異鄉人》。我們也會閱讀兩篇探討古代悲劇理論的文章,第一篇是摘錄自亞里斯多德的《詩論》，第二篇則是摘錄自尼采的《悲劇的誕生》。此外，在學期開始不久，我們也將欣賞柯波拉執導的〈教父〉影片，而在整個學期課程中，我們會不斷地提及這部電影。
這門課每週一節,每節兩小時,通常先講授課程內容20分鐘至半小時不等,前兩堂課,也許授課時間比較長一些。剩下的時間將用讓同學討論所指定的閱讀資料。課堂上的討論很重要,學生參與並提出貼切的評論,將對學習成績有明顯的影響。大部分的成績取決於三篇指定的書面作業: 期初報告(篇幅長度約五至七頁), 期中報告(約七至九頁),以及期末報告(約十至十二頁)。每篇報告應探討閱讀資料與課堂討論的內容。報告題目可由同學自行訂定,或可從建議的清單中選擇,題目清單將於報告交期截止日前兩星期發給有需要的同學參考。
"Tragedy" is a name originally applied to a particular kind of dramatic art and subsequently to other literary forms; it has also been applied to particular events, often implying thereby a particular view of life. Throughout the history of Western literature it has sustained this double reference. Uniquely and insistently, the realm of the tragic encompasses both literature and life.
Through careful, critical reading of literary texts, this subject will examine three aspects of the tragic experience:
The scapegoat: the focus of the tragic narrative is upon a person or agent overwhelmed by destructive events, whose suffering is not undertaken voluntarily, that is, by a deliberate act of heroism, and is often unrelated directly to the commission of certain deeds. Our discussions will pay attention to this association and to issues concerned with the election of scapegoats and of sanctioned targets for the exercise of communal violence.
The tragic hero: the scapegoat is usually lowly and outcast but the tragic protagonist at the inception of tragic drama and throughout the renaissance was inevitably someone of immense consequence, a royal or priestly figure, a person of power. Such figures are not usually central in modern narratives. Our discussions will examine the view that the tragic experience is thereby diminished in modern literature.
The ethical crisis: the circumstances of the tragic action usually pose an ethical dilemma in which different values appear to make rival and incompatible claims upon us and acknowledging one claim does not exempt us from the authority of the claim that we choose to deny. Our discussions will examine the idea of tragic choice.
These aspects of the tragic will be pursued in readings that range in the reference of their materials from the warfare of the ancient world to the experience of the modern extermination camps. The syllabus includes the following: Aeschylus's magnificent trilogy, The Oresteia, two plays by Sophocles (Antigone and Oedipus Rex), a play by Euripides (Hippolytus), two Platonic dialogues concerned with the death of Socrates, two plays by Shakespeare (Macbeth and King Lear), Balzac's novel, Père Goriot, Melville's Benito Cereno, Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House, Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, Isaak Dinesen's short story, "Sorrow-Acre", and The Stranger, by Albert Camus. We will read excerpts from two theoretical approaches to ancient tragic drama, the first from Aristotle's Poetics and the second from Friedrich Nietzsche's Birth of Tragedy. In addition, we will view and discuss Francis Ford Coppolla's film, The Godfather. No particular time is reserved for discussion of this film, but we will view it early in the course and reference will be made to it throughout the term.
The subject meets once a week for two hours. Each session begins with a lecture of varying length, usually running for twenty-minutes to half an hour, although the lectures of the first two meetings will be somewhat longer. The rest of the session is devoted to class-discussion of the materials assigned for the session. Participation in discussion is essential to the life of the class and the force and cogency of students' remarks will have a marked influence on grades. Much of the grade will also depend upon the quality of the three written assignments required by the course: an early paper (running from five to seven pages) a mid-term paper (running from seven to nine pages) and a final paper (running from ten to twelve pages). The papers will each deal with some aspect of the readings and discussion; topics may be invented by the students but an extensive list of suggested topics will be circulated two weeks in advance of each paper's due date for those students who require it.
A final paper is due that is ten pages in length. This subject does not have a final examination.