DescriptionThis lecture deals with two famous plays: Aeschylus’s Prometheus Bound, written and performed when Athenian democracy was being corrupted into empire, and Brecht’s Mother Courage and Her Children, written during the Nazis’ preparation of a new world war and performed after it whenever new wars were being prepared or waged. Mass murder of people by powerful rulers is the background to both. Aeschylus’s play is in a mythological framework, it functions by head-on conflict and precept, by identification with the larger-than-life protagonist. Brecht’s play is about the survival of little people in a life-long war, it functions by putting the conflict between the lines and events of each scene, by contraries involving a measured sympathetic distance.
Some key examples from both plays will be used to suggest that countering life-denying oppression has to begin with understanding the human position/s involved. It will be suggested that the states of mind proper to understanding are indignation at the dominant forces in our living together, and hope, however long.
This lecture will draw on Professor Suvin’s long engagement with the traditions of utopian literature and of utopianism. It will extend that engagement to the moments of conflict in these two dramatic texts to open up the position of indignation as a valuable one for both hermeneutics and politics in our own antiutopian age.
|Brighton, United Kingdom
|Degree of Recognition
- Utopia; Indignation; Politics; Drama; Capitalism; Marxism