Fall Webinar Series:
Political Conflict and Social Critique: The Role of the Dead in Contemporary Adaptations of Sophocles' Antigone
Date: 25 October 2022 (Tuesday)
Time: 10 - 11 AM CET (4 -5 PM HKT)
Title: Political Conflict and Social Critique: The Role of the Dead in Contemporary Adaptations of Sophocles' Antigone
Speaker: Katja Sarkowsky (Professor of American Studies at Augsburg University, Germany)
Sophocles’ tragedy Antigone (ca. 442 BCE) and its central conflict between Antigone and her uncle Creon, ruler of Thebes, over the burial of Antigone’s brother Polynices has been widely adapted in various cultural contexts. These adaptations tend to be highly political, translating the tragedy’s conflictual constellations and its centrality of the dead into effective political and social critique. But the function of the dead in and for this critique and the concrete forms they take vary significantly: While for most of the 20th century, they tended to represent the dead and disappeared in the context of authoritarian, fascist, or colonial regimes, adaptations in the past 30 years, by contrast, tend to deploy the dead as part of a critique of the democratic nation state and its institutions, regarding, for instance, contemporary migration policies, the treatment of refugees at Europe’s borders, or the position of ethnic minorities. Thus, they seek to highlight some of the prominent conflict lines of liberal democracies and thereby significantly complicate the resistance narrative that has been so important to the reception of the play (Llanque/ Sarkowsky, 2023).
This webinar will discuss the different functions of the dead in select contemporary adaptations of Sophocles' Antigone. While the presentation will focus on recent examples from the US, Canada, Germany, and Austria, participants are invited to consider a broader spectrum of examples in the discussion.
About the speaker:
Katja Sarkowsky is professor of American Studies at Augsburg University, Germany. She has published widely on contemporary Canadian and US American literatures, life writing, and literary citizenship.