King, Sharon D.
About the author: Sharon D. King received her PhD in Comparative Literature from UCLA.2003 0-7734-6722-X
Analyzing dramas that depict the fall of, or civic upheaval in, urban centers (both historical and legendary), this book establishes the author’s concept of “city tragedy” as a subgenre of tragedy in Renaissance theatrical practice. Using some two dozen texts (some by obscure authors, some by well-known playwrights such as Shakespeare and Calderón) from about 1560 to 1650, the book traces the different modes of creation of the city as principal character of the tragedy, then examines how an expanded notion of civic sin becomes its “fatal flaw.” This study is groundbreaking not only in its definition of the term “city tragedy” but in its examination of some of the sociological themes city tragedy presents – the city’s frequent depiction as a victimized woman, individual passion’s culpability in bringing death to the masses, the use of the notion of divine favor and divine wrath in the fate of a city for propagandistic ends. Finally, this study is timely in its discussion of recent dramatized portrayals of the events of 9/11, as it demonstrates that the patterns and conventions of city tragedies of 400 years ago are the very ones we use today.