The lecture will proffer a theory of postcolonial tragedy drawing specifically on the nature of violent disagreements in the history of tragedy and the relationship of these to different forms of historical transition. It will shed light on colonial history’s relationship to the fraught individual processes of self accounting and on the ambiguation of attitudes to individual and collective pasts as well as to the problematic status of feelings and affects in relation to these. It will also be argued further that the relation between the two domains of history and affect can serve as model for understanding of postcolonial tragedies' characterological types and their sociopolitical conditions. The lecture will draw on examples from a wide range of traditions and cultures but will settle on the works of Chinua Achebe and Toni Morrison to anchor the main terms of the argument.
Ato Quayson is the Jean G. and Morris M. Doyle Professor in Interdisciplinary Studies and Professor of English at Stanford. He is the author of numerous books, among them the award-winning Oxford Street, Accra: City Life and the itineraries of Transnationalism (2014), and, recently, Tragedy and Postcolonial Literature which deploys postcolonial literature to explore the links between suffering and ethics in its examination of tragic philosophy from the Greeks through Shakespeare to the present era.
Realised in cooperation with the Institute for English and American Studies and the Institute for Jewish Studies with the generous support of Landeszentrale für Politische Bildung NRW.