Critical Essay

Research in progress for HUMA 1301: Introduction to Humanities I

Faculty Mentors: Carolyn Perry, Ph.D. and Rich DeRouen

The following essay by Austin Tate began in response to an assignment in the Introduction to Humanities course taught by Prof. DeRouen. The assignment asked students to analyze the influence of contending value systems—those of the oikos and those of the polis—as they reveal themselves in selected scenes from the Sophoclean play Antigone. A secondary objective of the task was to interrogate the attempts of Antigone and Creon—the central characters of the play—to navigate the mix of personal and social obligations they faced in the cultural context of their respective positions in the Theban city-state. Austin’s work showed a command of the material and a nuanced grasp of the complex issues of the play that seemed deserving of the kind of showcase provided by Quest.

In preparing the essay for publication, it seemed appropriate to deepen the exploration of the central characters’ relationships to the broader community of Thebes and the implications those relationships hold for the conflict between Antigone and Creon. Prof. Perry took on the task of guiding Austin through this evolution of the essay. In pursuing the revision, Austin took an idea found in the conclusion of his original draft—that Antigone might have found someone with more authority to argue on her behalf—and moved that idea into his thesis. This change led him to consider the possible actions Teiresias, the seer, and Eurydice, the queen, might have taken to resolve the dilemma at the heart of the play. Austin’s insightful final version of the essay shows how this seemingly small shift in perspective can lead to a conclusion about ancient Greece that has implications for twenty-first century culture and politics.

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Carolyn Perry




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