Democracy and Tragedy in Ancient Athens and Today

Mark Chou (2010). Democracy and Tragedy in Ancient Athens and Today PhD Thesis, Political Science and International Studies, The University of Queensland.

       
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Author Mark Chou
Thesis Title Democracy and Tragedy in Ancient Athens and Today
School, Centre or Institute Political Science and International Studies
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2010-06-01
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Prof. Roland Bleiker
Dr. Michael Ure
Total pages 244
Total black and white pages 244
Subjects 16 Studies in Human Society
Abstract/Summary Democracy and tragedy were intrinsically linked during the time of the Athenian city-state. Yet this symbiosis, vital as it was then, is largely forgotten today. The dearth of serious political discussion is all the more puzzling since political scientists and international relations scholars write extensively on tragedy and democracy, often via a return to ancient Athens. However, these efforts have largely neglected the intrinsic links between democracy and tragedy; preferring instead to focus on either democracy or tragedy. Exploration of their essential links has, by and large, become confined to studies in philology and cultural history. The objective of this Thesis is to explore the contemporary political relevance of the ancient symbiosis of democracy and tragedy. It argues that the most politically important insight of this symbiosis today stems from tragedy’s so-called multivocal form: its ability to bring a variety of – otherwise marginalised – stories, characters and voices onto the public stage and into democratic debate. In particular, this Thesis explores two novel lessons that tragedy’s multivocal form can potentially teach contemporary democrats seeking to extend the institutions and procedures of democracy in the age of globalisation. The first is the understanding that the idea and practice of democracy should not be solely concerned with the institution of order in political life. Tragedy teaches us the lesson that while order is necessary for a stable and productive communal existence sites of disorder too provide insights into dilemmas posed by political instability, inequality, exclusion, and flux. A truly democratic order must seek to include and give voice to democratic disorder. Given this, the second lesson that this Thesis highlights from its study of Athenian tragedy’s multivocal form is the need to draw on both factual and fictional sources of knowledge in an effort to negotiate and overcome contemporary democratic dilemmas. Only by broadening the scope of reality, through a resort to fiction, can democrats hope to legitimate a variety of – otherwise marginalised – stories, characters and voices today.
Keyword international relations, democracy, Athenian tragedy, political philosophy, cultural history, theatre studies, classics.
Additional Notes None.

 
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Created: Fri, 10 Sep 2010, 22:36:18 EST by Mr Mark Chou on behalf of Library - Information Access Service