Presenter: Professor Nancy Worman (Barnard), RD Milns Visiting Professor for 2016

While tragedy confronts the body in pain as an aesthetic object, Aristotle conceives of plot as an embodied form that ought to be ‘good for seeing’ (eusynoptos) and yet independent of actual viewing in the civic theater. In fact, this ‘body’ of the plot stands in important counterpoint, I shall argue, to Aristotle’s pervasive disdain for tragic enactment before a weak and corrupt audience. His emphasis on unity, balance, and completion as the ‘bodily’ characteristics of this form resonates ideologically in contrast to the somatics of actors and the multifarious crowd, a tension between the specific material and historical setting of the Poetics' own composition and the pointed ahistoricity of Aristotle's text. Since he is writing during a period marked by the dissemination and proliferation of productions and thus the ascendancy of actors, a key feature of tragedy’s first canonization in Athens (350s-330s BC), his theoretical resistance to the historical moment bears some fuller consideration.

About Classics and Ancient History Seminars

Event details

  • The seminars take place at 4pm, in the Michie Building (09), Room 536
  • Seminars are also on Zoom. Send an email to Duncan Keenan-Jones ( for the link.
  • Upcoming seminars can be found here.
  • Please be aware that we are still operating under Covid-19 regulations during public events. Masks are no longer required at UQ locations - however, UQ strongly encourages mask wearing when physical distancing is not possible. UQ strongly encourages all campus attendees to be up to date with vaccinations. And finally, those who are feeling unwell, have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the previous 7 days or have been in close contact with a confirmed case in the last 7 days, are asked not to attend this seminar.
  • For those attending in person, if you would like to join us for drinks and/or dinner afterwards at UQ’s St. Lucy's from 5:15 pm, please RSVP by email to Duncan Keenan-Jones ( by 9am on the day of the seminar.
  • Please also contact Duncan Keenan-Jones should you have questions about the event.

The Friends of Antiquity, an alumni organisation of the University, runs its own series of public lectures, which take place on Sunday afternoons. The Friends’ program for can be found at