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Title: Chorality and Lyric Thought in Greek Tragedy
Authors: Haselswerdt, Ella
Advisors: Holmes, Brooke
Contributors: Classics Department
Subjects: Literature
Issue Date: 2018
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation contends that it is productive to consider tragedy a complex lyric genre, with the chorus serving as the primary vehicle of that lyricism. While recent scholarship on the tragic choral odes has established their close interactions with extra-dramatic lyric genres and Athenian song culture, the hermeneutic implications of tragic lyricism beyond the plays’ original performance contexts have thus far remained largely unexplored. Lyric has long been recognized as a mode of expression with different aims and means from mimetic, diegetic narratives, oriented less towards rational argumentation than towards aesthetic synchrony and semiotic experimentation. The introduction draws from a wide range of sources (both ancient and modern) to construct an apparatus for approaching the plays, defining a methodology termed “choral reading.” This mode values both close philological attention to the plays’ texture and musicality and attention to the plenitude (or “chorus”) of artistic, philosophical and theoretical attention the texts have accrued over their reception histories. Such “choral reading” is pursued in three chapters, each devoted to a single play. The chorus of Sophocles’ Antigone posits a cosmic order in the Ode to Man that is merely hypothetical, one that, as the play progresses, it continuously revises and refines with existential consequences for the human and the humanist. In Euripides’ Bacchae, the multi-generic potentialities of the dramatic form are exploited to infect the play with a hyperchorality that allows for the enactment of multiple synchronic competing versions of the myth of the birth of Dionysus. Attention to this mode of story-telling is illustrative for thinking about how victims of trauma communicate the affect that accompanied a horrific event rather than a narrative of cause and effect. In Aeschylus’ Agamemnon, the terms that constitute the play’s famous adage pathei mathos are constructed and complicated via the chorus’s exploration of the experiential quality of various temporal modes. The play employs tragedy’s formal capacities to dramatize the shadowy space between suffering or witnessing a traumatic experience and the ability to articulate the event and its significance, a pattern that is reflected in contemporary psychoanalytic trauma theory.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Classics

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