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Dramatic Literature, Criticism and Theory | French and Francophone Literature | Gender and Sexuality


In the Wake of Medea examines the violence of seventeenth-century French political dramas. French tragedy usually appears as a passionless, cerebral genre that refused all forms of violence. In the Wake explores the rhetorical, literary, and performance strategies through which violence persisted. The mythological figure of Medea, foreigner who massacres her brother, murders kings, burns down Corinth, and kills her own children, can serve as a paradigm for this violence. Paradigmatic also of the refugee who is welcomed yet feared, who confirms our concept of the social while threatening its integrity, Medea’s presence is this book’s organizing principle. An alternative to western philosophy’s ethical paradigm of Antigone, the Medean presenceoffers a model of radically persistent and disruptive outsiderness – for classical theater and its wake in literary theory. The book explores a range of artistic strategies integrating violence into drama, from rhetorical devices like ekphrasis to dramaturgical mechanisms like machinery, and which all involve diverse kinds of temporal disruption. The full range of this Medean presence is explored in literal treatments of Medea (Médée, La Conquête de la Toison d’Or) and in tragedies figuratively invoking a Medean presence (Hercule mourant, Phèdre, Athalie). Of interest to specialists, political theorists, and students of theater, it explores works by well-known dramaturges (Racine, Corneille)alongside a breadth of neoclassical political theater (spectacular machine plays, Neo-Stoic parables, didactic Christian theater). In the Wakerecognizes the violence within these tragedies to explain why violence remains so integral to literature and arts today.



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