January 27, 2005

What's so great about Oedipus the King?

For this week’s blog I’d like you to make an argument about the play Oedipus Rex, and comment on a partner’s idea (we’ll determine partners today). Your argument should encompass an answer to this question: What do you think is the central idea that Sophocles was trying to communicate to his audience in the writing of his play? Select a way to articulate this central message, and consider consulting the play for evidence for your assertion. You should post by Tuesday February 1 in order for your partner to be able to comment on your argument in detail, and to give you time to do the same.

Readings:
Sophocles’s Oedipus Rex
Excerpts from Aristotle’s The Poetics

(note: I’d encourage you to finish reading The Laramie Project this week as well. However, you can take your time with this text.)

Things to keep in mind while reading excerpts from The Poetics:
-keep in mind that Aristotle was writing about a century after the tragedies to which he refers were written and performed. Aristotle’s views and arguments about theatre may be some of the oldest we have—and certainly are some of the most influential. However, The Poetics represents only one point of view about theatre.
-recall or look up the words mimesis and catharsis. Realize that the theatrical importance of these words comes from Aristotle’s writings, and both have saturated the cultural imaginary of what theatre ought to be and do. Why might this be?

Things to keep in mind while reading Oedipus Rex:
-Oedipus was Aristotle’s ideal tragedy. What elements of the play can you identify that might qualify it for this honor?
-even now this play is one of the most often performed—there’s a production you can go see at the Guthrie Theatre. A reviewer in the Minneapolis Star Tribune suggests, “The show leaves us with many hard questions, including this one: Do you really want to know the truth about yourself and your history?” (link to article--registration required) Are there elements here that seem timeless? Why has this play endured for so long?
-consider the theme of this course, how the stage and the city co-exist throughout history, in conjunction with your reading of this play.


Posted by glove006 at January 27, 2005 10:23 AM