Subscribe to our mailing list to get updates

* indicates required

Thinking Through Tragedy and Comedy A Symposium on Performance Philosophy and the Future of Genre

Matthias Dreyer


Taking into account the intertwinements of the theory of tragedy on the one hand and theatrical work on (ancient) tragic texts on the other, the paper explores the way in which the suspension of tragedy as a genre is a part of tragedy itself. This is especially the case in conceptions of tragedy as a rupture or interruption, which, in a certain way, seem to be constitutionally attached to the idea of transition. Hölderlin’s idea of caesura, its reflection in Benjamin’s understanding of tragedy as a revision of myth, and Brecht’s work on Antigone as an exodus from the cult („Auszug aus dem Kult“) are in the center of a critical dramaturgy of this kind. The lecture takes up this perspective by reflecting on the question of historicity as its crucial paradigm, unclosing in a radical way the temporality of the tragic process. Although in the history of theatre and thought tragedy has been too often associated with the universal and timeless, how is it possible to think of historicity in a way negating submission under the condition of the universal without losing the genre of tragedy itself?

Matthias Dreyer is a lecturer and postdoctoral research associate at the Institute for Theatre, Film and Media Studies, Goethe-Universität in Frankfurt/Main. Academic studies in Vienna, Paris, Baltimore and Berlin; work as a dramaturge; 2005-2011 research associate at the Institute of Theatre Studies, FU Berlin and the Research Centre "Transformations of Antiquity"; 2011 doctoral degree; recent research focus on collectivity, biopolitics and postvitalism in the history of theatre and performance art. Most important publication: Theater der Zäsur. Antike Tragödie im Theater seit den 1960er Jahren (2014).