Penn Arts & Sciences Logo


ENGL 103.401
also offered as: COML 119
MW 10:00 am

 What do we mean when we call an event “tragic”? When we do so, often without knowing it, we reach back to a form of theater that began over 2500 years ago, in 5th B.C.E  Athens. This is perhaps the most powerful example of how a literary genre – tragedy – can shape our perceptions of our history and experience. We will be focusing in this class on tragedy that is performed, while our focus will  range from its beginnings in Greece to right now,  in all forms of screen media, from film to TV series to video games. Together we will debate many of the vital  questions that tragedy's survival in our time raises. For example, why do human beings feel compelled to stage and  watch the imitation of human suffering? What is a tragic hero, and why and  how do these heroes matter to people? Do tragic plots imply we have no freedom in determining the shape of our lives? This course will not pretend to cover all the manifestations of tragic drama from the Greeks to the present: texts will likely include plays by Sophocles, Euripides, Shakespeare, Racine, Ibsen, and Beckett,  as well as recent films and  relevant criticism and philosophy. Assignments will include three short papers and keeping of a record of your reading over the course of the semester.

Recitations with TA classrooms and office assignments

English 103.403 F 10-11:00 FBH 323 Micah Del Rosario office hours in FBH room 238

English 103.404 F 10-11:00 FBH 25 Alex Eisenthal office hours in FBH room 238

English 103.405 F 10-11:00 FBH 24 Mariah J. Min office hours in FBH 340

English 103.406 F 10-11:00 FBH 20 Eleni M. Palis office hours in FBH 331

English 103.407 F 10-11:00 FBH 222 Evelyn Soto office hours in FBH 340


fulfills requirements
Sector 1: Theory and Poetics of the Standard Major
Sector 3: Early Literature to 1660 of the Standard Major
Sector III: Arts & Letters of the College's General Education Curriculum