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Contribution to Book

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The history of genre studies is almost a textbook case of critical self-deconstruction. Beginning with Aristotle himself, we are faced with irreconcilable differences between description and prescription, literary cause and psychological effect, the written Poetics and the promised but lacking sequel on comedy. The temptation to compromise on a definition (or multiple definitions) of a genre has been met with startlingly rigid manifestos for limiting our use of a word such as "tragedy" only to those plays that fulfill the particular narrowly- conceived requirements of one critic or another. Given Jacques Lacan's penchant for jumping into the middle of thorny problems, it is not surprising that he also dealt directly with tragedy in his study of Antigone in the second half of his Seminar 7, L'Ethique de Ia psychanalyse. In his usually provocative and ingenious way, he brings to bear his own perspective on such notions as catharsis, hamartia, beauty, the role of the Chorus, desire, death, and the very problematic concept of the second death. While a full consideration of tragedy in light of Lacan's philosophical and psychoanalytical writings would not be complete without a serious treatment of these remarks, the focus in this brief study is on a more structural problem related to his earlier work on the nature of the split subject and the inevitable impossibility of any kind of totalization.


Barbara Mujica & Sharon D. Voros


University Press of America





Publication Information

Looking at the Comedia in the Year of the Quincentennial: Proceedings of the 1992 Symposium on Golden Age Drama at the University of Texas, El Paso, March 18-21