The pleasures of documentary tragedy

British Journal of Aesthetics 47 (2):184-198 (2007)
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Abstract
Two assumptions are common in discussions of the paradox of tragedy: (1) that tragic pleasure requires that the work be fictional or, if non-fiction, then non-transparently represented; and (2) that tragic pleasure may be provoked by a wide variety of art forms. In opposition to (1) I argue that certain documentaries could produce tragic pleasure. This is not to say that any sad or painful documentary could do so. In considering which documentaries might be plausible candidates, I further argue, against (2), that the scope of tragic pleasure is limited to works that possess certain thematic and narrative features.
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