Tragedy and Trauerspiel

This project investigated tragedy and Trauerspiel along with their philosophical principles by means of selected examples of dramatic spectacles where one witnesses the interference and dialectic of the European secularization process from the 17th century to the present.

While contemporary tragedy is born under the profound influence of its earlier cultish origins, Trauerspiel unveils the underlying ambition for a religious experience or more fundamental eschatological self-enlightenment. In understanding the two phenomena, one must neither overlook their ancient or Christian heritage, nor perceive them as resulting from the historical progression of distinctly disparate forms. However, expressions of Christian, ancient, or pseudo-ancient origins endure and intermingle throughout the history of Trauerspiel and tragedy; these traces merit further investigation. Research in light of this conglomeration and hybridization broached in particular the representations of the state and sovereignty, thus formulating a project that highlights political theory discourse as theological investigation historically and systematically exploring the origins of tragedy or Trauerspiel and the implications that follow.

Current theories regarding secularization and its politics were not applied to Trauerspiel and tragedy in a one-dimensional fashion; rather, the question to what extent the two phenomena in turn influenced and determined central tenants of such theories have been examined. In this manner, we explored the possibilities of localizing denominational subtexts, as well as texts inquiring into the philosophy of the tragic.

Such a reconfiguration of tragedy and Trauerspiel under a literary, philosophical and religious historical regard therefore implicates investigations into representational and performance theory. In so doing, one will progress beyond the political dimensions of theater and theatricality, seeking out further examination of the theater public, be it imaginary, and the underlying historical development of “affect economy.”

Program funding through the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) 2011–2013
Head researcher(s): Daniel Weidner
Associate Researcher(s): Claude Haas
Guest(s): Raz D. Chen-Morris, Uwe Steiner


Claude Haas, Daniel Weidner (ed./eds.)

Benjamins Trauerspiel
Theorie – Lektüren – Nachleben

LiteraturForschung vol. 21
Kulturverlag Kadmos, Berlin 2014, 261 pages
ISBN: 978-3-86599-237-6
Hall Bjornstad, Katherine Ibbett (ed./eds.)

Walter Benjamin’s Hypothetical French Trauerspiel

Yale University Press, New Haven 2014, 173 pages
ISBN 978-0-300-19420-3

Claude Haas

  • Trauerspiel und Tragödie, in: Daniel Weidner (ed.): Handbuch Literatur und Religion. Stuttgart, Weimar: Metzler 2016, 275–283
  • “Jetzt Retter hilf dir selbst – du rettest alle!” Zur Tragödienpolitik der (Lebens-)Rettung in Schillers “Wilhelm Tell,” in: Johannes F. Lehmann, Hubert Thüring (eds.): Rettung und Erlösung. Politisches und religiöses Heil in der Moderne. München: Fink 2015, 123–147
  • Heute ein König? Zur Dramenzeit des Souveräns, in: Claude Haas, Andrea Polaschegg (eds.): Der Einsatz des Dramas. Dramenanfänge, Wissenschaftspoetik und Gattungspolitik. Freiburg. i. Br., Berlin, Wien: Rombach 2012, 253–276
  • Indianer weinen (nicht). Zu Poetik und Dramaturgie der Träne bei Corneille, Schiller und Racine, in: Marcel Krings, Roman Luckscheiter (eds.): Deutsch-Französische Literaturbeziehungen. Stationen und Aspekte dichterischer Nachbarschaft vom Mittelalter bis zur Gegenwart. Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann 2007, 131–145

Daniel Weidner


12 Jul 2013 – 13 Jul 2013

Öffentliche Trauer zwischen Familie, Ritual und Staat

ZfL, Schützenstr. 18, 10117 Berlin, 3. Et., Trajekte-Tagungsraum 308

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17 Feb 2013 – 20 Feb 2013

Stages of Knowledge, Spaces of Faith. Allegory, New Science and Baroque Theater

Tel Aviv and Bar Ilan

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23 Feb 2012 – 25 Feb 2012

Das Nachleben des Trauerspiels

ZfL, Schützenstr. 18, 10117 Berlin, 3. Et., Trajekte-Tagungsraum 308

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