Tragedy seems rooted, as Lukacs wrote, in “the deepest longing of human existence.” This course focuses on three questions: What is the essence of tragedy? What explains the value, meaning, appeal, and pleasure of contemplating literary works that are sad? In what way do tragic works suggest a stance on being or a philosophy of life? Examine five tragic works, and three philosophers—Aristotle, Hegel, and Nietzsche—who meditated on these questions about tragedy.
Bill Smoot grew up in Maysville, Kentucky, and received his B.A. from Purdue University and Ph.D. from Northwestern University. He has taught for over 40 years in diverse venues from universities to private high schools to prison. He is the author of Conversations with Great Teachers. Tragedy has been a long-standing interest.