|Ever since La Bruyère pitted Corneille against Racine in Les Caractères—Corneille "paints men as they should be," whereas Racine "paints them as they are"—it has become commonplace to place the two playwrights at opposing ends of classical tragedy. This course revisits the familiar Corneille-Racine parallel through close readings of the plays in their historical, political, and cultural context. We cover such topics as the poetics of classical tragedy, the (a)morality of the theater, the paradox of tragic pleasure, and the limits of representation (what can and cannot be shown, and how). In addition to tragedies by Corneille and Racine, primary readings include texts by Aristotle, Augustine, D'Aubignac, and Fontenelle. Secondary readings by Guénoun, Marin, Rancière.