Events in the world today appear to be increasingly uncontrollable and unknowable. Climate change, refugee crises, and global pandemics seem to demonstrate the limits of human reason, science, and technology. In light of this, the terms "tragedy" and "tragic" have come into greater use. What does the register of the tragic do? What does its deployment in the contemporary context and other times of crisis mean? In addressing such questions, this book also argues for a "tragic vision" embedded in the history of social thought, demonstrating the relevance of the ancient tragedians and Aristotle as well as Shakespeare and modern dramatists to the most pressing questions of agency and collectivity in the social sciences. Developing a theory of "tragic social science," which is applied to topics including global inequality, celebrity culture, pandemics, and climate change, The Concept of Tragedy aims to restore "tragedy" as a productive analytic in the social sciences. As such, it will appeal to scholars of sociology, anthropology, social theory, media and communications, and literary criticism with interests in tragedy, suffering, and modernity.

chapter 1|20 pages


Why tragedy? Why now?

part |54 pages

Part I

chapter 222|20 pages

Beyond Intentionality

The will, agency, and subjectivity in ancient and classical tragedy

chapter 3|16 pages

The Tragic Individual

Catharsis, the hero, and the flaw in Aristotle and beyond

chapter 4|16 pages

Modern Tragedy and Its Subjects

Shakespeare, Freud, and post-Christian metaphysics

part |86 pages

Part II

chapter 765|22 pages

The Theodicy of Suffering

Abjection under capitalism

chapter 6|24 pages

From Hero to Celebrity

Fame, familiarity, and redemption

chapter 7|26 pages

Tragedy of the Commons

Genre and collective agency amidst climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic

chapter 8|12 pages

Toward A Tragic Social Science

Responsibility, critique, and thinking diffractively