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Title: Ajax : a study of the impact and reception of the myth of Ajax and Sophocles' Ajax in Western culture
Author: Chatterjee, Etta
ISNI:       0000 0004 7963 9658
Awarding Body: King's College London
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2019
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This dissertation focuses on the figure of the mythical Ajax as portrayed in Sophocles' eponymous drama, in particular the suicide motif, and reworkings of that play subsequently, with a particular focus on English-language performance. A primary focus will be psychological, in the broadest sense, which encompasses the depiction of male emotional suffering, male lamentation, the suicidal state and its implications, the aesthetic of performance as related to psychological states, and their reception. After the introductory chapter on reception, Chapter Two will study the pre-Sophoclean elements of the myth in order to assess Sophocles' modifications. Chapter Three will explore contemporary research into psychological states in suicide followed by a close examination of Sophocles' own play, and the manner in which he delineates the crisis that overwhelms his eponymous hero and the dramatic re-workings of the myth that enable him to convincingly portray that iconic suicide. Chapter Four forms a bridge by providing an overview of the reception of the play in later antiquity, including the treatment of the suicide motif in Virgil, the depictions of Ajax in pantomime and the use of the play in progymnasmata, and reception up to the seventeenth Century. Chapter Five begins with a short section on the choice of the play as the inaugural Cambridge Greek play in late nineteenth-century Cambridge, followed by a detailed study of a seminal-perhaps the seminal-twentieth century production, the Ajax written by Robert Auletta and directed by Peter Sellars, with its radical and innovative staging. The next two chapters explore a series of stagings of the play which have followed in the wake of that pathbreaking production, including Timberlake Wertenbaker's Our Ajax of 2013 with its focus on post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD, as well as the popularity of this play in staged readings with military veterans. A number of other notable productions of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries will also be explored in the final chapter. The thesis is however, more than a performance history of Ajax in a particular language and epoch, since it seeks to correlate the play's searching enquiry into why a great man kills himself with shifting and evolving theatrical, psychological and aesthetic sensibilities across time.
Supervisor: Hall, Edith ; Lada-Richards, Ismene Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available