Introductory Seminars for First-Year Students
To Die For: Antigone and Political Dissent
This seminar focuses on Sophocles' great tragedy, Antigone. We approach the play from three perspectives: the character Antigone as an archetype of political dissent; the story of her struggle in relation to modern approaches to social change; and the individual moral question of what is worth dying for.
In addition to Sophocles' play, we will study modern dramatic and filmed versions of the Antigone story, including works by Bertolt Brecht (Nazi Germany), Jean Anouilh (occupied France), Athol Fugard (apartheid South Africa), Tom Paulin (Northern Ireland during the "troubles"), Margarethe von Trotta (Europe during the "red brigades"), Janus Glowacki (Antigone and homelessness), and A. R. Gurney (U.S. college protests).
We then will consider Antigone as a touchstone for understanding workers' struggles in the United States (documentary films by Barbara Kopple), and political resistance in Guatemala (readings by Rigoberta Menchu and Jennifer Harbury). Short excerpts on the ethical importance of political dissent will help us understand how an ancient text like Antigone can illuminate contemporary issues such as the status of women, environmental sustainability, economic and social justice, and resistance to illegitimate political authority.