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War, Catharsis, Peace: Ancient Greek Visions and 21st Century Violence

Par Christine Froula : Professor of English - Northwestern University
Publié par Marion Coste le 12/03/2020

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This presentation brings together an American play and an American film inspired by Greek plays: Aeschylus’s ((Suppliants)) and Aristophanes’s ((Lysistrata)). Charles Mee’s gripping drama ((Big Love)) (2000) animates the plot of ((The Suppliants)) to explore the violence of the American socio-economic sex/gender system, moving from male violence to female violence to catharsis to peace. The title of Spike Lee’s brilliant, urgent, visionary utopian film ((Chi-Raq)) (2015) names Chicago’s horrific neighborhood gang wars and America’s imperial violence in one angry word and empowers its heroine, Lysistrata, to organize the neighborhood women to seize arms, treasure and the power of language in order to stop the gang warfare that, in real life as in the film, destroys children and young men in our city every day.

 This talk was part of the "Lectures in English Studies" programme of the Department of English at the ENS de Lyon and was organized by Vanessa Guignery.


Introduction 00:06
1. Staging violent crises and states of emergency 06:31
  • The agon between violence, the law and justice
  • Defining tragic catharsis
2. Aeschylus’s The Suppliants 15:20
  • Race and kinship
  • Fleeing forced marriage: justice and civilized life
  • Granting asylum to the suppliants: towards a democratic vote
  • Justice against hubris: from chattel to refugees to citizen strangers
  • Other versions of the myth 
3. Charles Mee's Big Love (2000) 43:15
  • Staging a crisis of hospitality and a state of emergency in a modern world
  • Adapting the play in the 21st century: questioning gendered justice
  • Sovereignty and hospitality
  • Two ideals of justice: male and female
  • Tragic justice and catharsis
4. Aristophanes’s Lysistrata and Spike Lee's Chi-raq 1:17:18
  • Sex strikes and calls for peace: Lysistrata as an avatar of Athena
  • Chi-raq: gun violence and tragic catharsis
Pour citer cette ressource :

Christine Froula, "War, Catharsis, Peace: Ancient Greek Visions and 21st Century Violence ", La Clé des Langues [en ligne], Lyon, ENS de LYON/DGESCO (ISSN 2107-7029), mars 2020. Consulté le 25/05/2024. URL: https://cle.ens-lyon.fr/anglais/litterature/litterature-americaine/war-catharsis-peace-ancient-greek-visions-and-21st-century-violence