Title

The Power of Tragedy: An Eighteenth-Century Debate on Theater and its Relevance to Literature Pedagogy Today

Publication Date

2014

Journal

The French Review

Volume

88

Issue

1

Abstract

This article brings to light a debate on tragic fiction in eighteenth-century France, and more specifically, on whether or not tragedy has the power to transform individuals intellectually and emotionally. Through analysis of abbé Dubos’s Reflexions critiques sur la poésie et sur la peinture and Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Lettre à d’Alembert sur les spectacles, I contend that Dubos’s overwhelmingly positive conception of fiction—and especially his contention that we learn through the emotions when we engage with tragic fiction—can serve as an admirable pedagogical model for today’s fiction-focused foreign language classrooms.

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