“Go, litel bok, go, litel myn tragedye.” So wrote Chaucer at the end of Troilus and Criseyde. But how compatible are the forms and ideas of tragedy with Christian tradition, its theology and liturgy? What are the relations between medieval and early modern discourses of tragedy? In The Tragic Imagination (2016), the distinguished Anglican theologian Rowan Williams presents a grand narrative maintaining the compatibility of “the tragic imagination” and Christianity. Yet the story neglects, without any comment, the entire Middle Ages. This special issue of JMEMS explores the fortunes of tragedy as a genre by investigating the sources and consequences of this missing middle of Williams’s book. It also concerns what led generations of Christians to invent or reinvent tragic forms of drama and literature in the early modern period. The essays illuminate in new ways the divide between medieval and early modern studies that continues to be intrinsic to departments of the humanities despite increasing acknowledgment of the distortions of cultural histories created by such institutionalization.
Research Article|January 01 2019
The Fortunes of Tragedy
Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (2019) 49 (1): 1-5.