Tragedy in Theater, Culture, and Society


Comparative Studies of Ideas and Cultures (3rd level)

Slovene Studies – tradition and modernity

Course code: 45 

Year of study: Brez letnika 

Course principal:
Prof. Krištof Jacek Kozak, Ph. D.


Workload: lectures 60 hours, seminar 30 hours

Course type: general elective 

Languages: Slovene 

Learning and teaching methods: lectures, seminars 

Objectives and competences

The goal of this course is to familiarize students with the concept of tragedy not only within the theatre, but also beyond. The goal is to elucidate the history and present status of this concept, which is so omnipresent in today’s world. Students thus learn about the central bases of literary, theatrical, philosophical, and social-theory discourse on tragedy and the tragic through history up to the present. Through lectures and discussion classes, this course stimulates students to think about and study people and their placement in the world and society. Another goal of this course is also to draw attention to the basic link between this concept and the central concept of new-age philosophy, the subject. In addition to providing a theoretical basis, the purpose of the lectures is to analyse the present and apply the concept of tragedy to developments today that are extremely topical in light of the concept discussed.



None required.


Content (Syllabus outline)

  • Theoretical background for discussing tragedy: 
    • Conceptualization and application of the concept of tragedy (Aristotle) 
    • The Roman relationship to tragic poetics (Horatio) 
    • Renaissance exegetes (Castelvetro, Scaliger) 
    • Classicist theoretical assumptions (Corneille, Racine)
    • German idealism and the philosophy of tragedy (Hegel, Fichte, Schelling, Schlegel) 
    • The post-idealist perception of tragedy (Hebbel) 
    • Modernism and tragedy (Jaspers, Lukács) 
    • The rise and fall of postmodernism (Derrida, Foucault, Barthes, Baudrillard) 
    • The rehabilitation of tragedy (Lévinas, Williams, Eagleton)
  • The main periods in the development of tragedies: 
    • The Greek and Roman classical period (Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides; Seneca) 
    • The Renaissance (Elizabethan theater: Johnson, Shakespeare, etc.) 
    • French Classicism (Corneille, Racine) 
    • German Classicism (Goethe, Schiller) 
    • Premodern tragedy (Hebbel) 
    • Modernism and the theater of the absurd (Beckett) 
    • Existentialism (Ionesco, Sartre, Genet) 
    • Postmodernism (syncretic contemporary theater: Koltès, Greig, etc.) 
  • Questions and problems connected with the main concepts of tragedy and their application: 
    • Catharsis 
    • Peripeteia 
    • Anagnorisis 
    • Hubris 
  • The role of the protagonist as a philosophical subject in tragedy: 
    • The state of an individuum in Classical Antiquity 
    • The development of the concept of a “subject” 
    • The subject within idealistic philosophical systems 
    • The modernist turn 
    • The postrational decomposition of the subject 
    • The postdeconstructivist process of reinstating the subject 


  • Aristotel. 1982. Poetika. Ljubljana: Cankarjeva založba.
  • Badiou, Alain. 1982. Théorie du Sujet. Paris: Seuil.
  • Benjamin, Walther. 1977. The Origin of German Tragic Drama. London: NLB.
  • Birkenhauer, Theresia. 2004. Tragedija: delo z demokracijo: Izmera razdalje. Theater der Zeit 11.
  • Eagleton, Terry. 2003. Sweet Violence: The Idea of the Tragic. Oxford; Malden, MA: Blackwell: 1-22, 203-240.
  • Hegel, G. W. F. 2001. Predavanja o estetiki : dramska poezija. Ljubljana: Društvo za teoretsko psihoanalizo.
  • Hristić, Jovan. 2001. O tragediji: deset esejev. Ljubljana: MGL.
  • Kozak, Krištof J. 2003. O tragičnem danes – iz perspektive subjekta in situacije. Primerjalna književnost 26/2.

– -. 2004. Privlačna usodnost: subjekt in tragedija. Ljubljana: MGL.

  • Lévinas, Emmanuel. 1965, Totalité et Infini: Essai sur l’Extériorité. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff.
  • Lukács, György. 1981. Entwicklungsgeschichte des Modernen Dramas. Ed. Frank Benseler. Darmstadt: Luchterhand.

– -. 1974. The Metaphysics of Tragedy. Soul and Form. Georg Lukács. London: Merlin Press: 152-74.

  • Miller, Arthur. 1997. Narava tragedije. Nova revija 16: 232-34.

– -. 1997. Tragedija in navadni človek.” Nova revija 16: 235-37.

  • Nietzsche, Friedrich. 1995. Rojstvo tragedije iz duha glasbe. Ljubljana: Karantanija.
  • Steiner, George. 1990. A note on Absolute Tragedy. Journal of Literature & Theology 4/2: 147-56.

– -. 2002. Smrt tragedije. Ljubljana: Literarno-umetniško društvo Literatura.

  • Szondi, Peter. 1964. Versuch über das Tragische. 1961. Frankfurt am Main: Insel.
  • Taylor, Charles. 1989. The Surces of Self. The Making of the Modern Identity. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. 
  • Unamuno, Miguel de. 1983. Tragično občutje življenja. Ljubljana: Slovenska matica.
  • Wilkoszewska, Krystyna. 1986. On the Experience of the Tragic. Philosophica 38/2: 27-40.
  • Williams, Raymond. 1966. Modern Tragedy. London: Chatto; Windus.
  • Zima, Peter. V. 2002. Theorie des Subjekts: Subjektivität und Identität zwischen Moderne und Postmoderne. Tübingen: Francke.



Students must actively participate in lectures and discussion classes – that is, they must read course literature in parallel with lectures, and contribute to discussions. The final course grade is established based on students’ activity or participation in discussions and the grade on the final paper (which is a longer, independently written research paper).


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Intertextuality and Cultural Memory

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Slovenian Emigrants between Tradition and the Present

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The etics of Drama

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The Role of Woman in Slovenian Society and Culture

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Tragedy in Theater, Culture, and Society

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