What do we mean when we call an event tragic? Does the term simply convey our sense that events causing great suffering, destruction, and distress should be approached with reverential pity and horror? Or does it imply a particular view of life, for instance, one where tragic events are an unusual departure from the non-tragic norm, or where heroes are brought low by their own tragic flaws? In this course, we’ll survey various theories of tragedy, including those of Aristotle, Nietzsche, and René Girard. We’ll also read ancient and modern tragedies such as Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex, Shakespeare’s King Lear, and Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. Together we’ll ask a series of questions: Why is tragedy sometimes pleasurable? What conception of the universe does tragedy imply? And how might biblical texts like the Book of Job or the gospels complicate the tragic worldview?