Tragicomedy from The Winter’s Tale to Breaking Bad
Nothing is funnier than unhappiness.’ Samuel Beckett, Endgame
While comic treatment of potentially tragic experience is as old as Euripides’ ironic tragedies with comic endings and as new as some of the latest Hollywood films, tragicomedy has predominated mainly in two periods--the Renaissance and the modern era. The theoretical conceptions and critical concerns common to both periods are that tragicomedy is a quintessentially ‘modern’ genre, that it is more true to life than either tragedy or comedy, that the relationship between the comic and tragic must not be haphazard but rather the one should modify the other to bring a meaningful mixture of responses from the audience, and finally that success in this genre is difficult to achieve. We will read plays and theoretical discussions of the genre from the Renaissance and modern periods and see film productions of some of the plays before going on to investigate the genre in contemporary films and television. Reports, essays, in class exam.