December 8, 2020

Dramatizing Atheism in Cyril Tourneur's “The Atheist's Tragedy”

Event Series: The Christian Literary Imagination

Dramatizing Atheism in Cyril Tourneur's “The Atheist's Tragedy” Video Player

Showing the Dramatizing Atheism in Cyril Tourneur's “The Atheist's Tragedy” Video

Little is known about Cyril Tourneur, and his ouevre is slim. For some time, he was thought to be the dramatist who wrote The Revenger's Tragedy, but critical opinion has now assigned it to Thomas Middleton. Of The Atheist's Tragedy (c.1603-1604) there seems to be little doubt that Tourneur was the author. His poem The Transformed Metamorphosis (1600) and his prose text Laugh and lie Downe: or the Worldes Folly (1605) indicate he had an abiding interest (perhaps even an obsession) in the follies of the world and in the tension that arises from the sardonically comic opposition between "a world governed by heaven" and the tragedy of the "smothering" of the soul in a world "by heau'n rejected" (The Transformed Metamorphosis).

In a conversation with Professor Michael Scott, John Drakakis discussed Tourneur's dramatized world of follysardonically funny but also tragicand The Atheist's Tragedy, which combines these two moods.

This event was sponsored by the Future of the Humanities Project, the Georgetown Humanities Initiative, the Georgetown Master’s Program in the Engaged and Public Humanities, and the Las Casas Institute (Blackfriars Hall, University of Oxford). It is part of a year-long series on the "Christian Literary Imagination."


John Drakakis is emeritus professor of English at the University of Stirling and has held an honorary professorship at the University of Lincoln. He is an honorary fellow of Wrexham Glyndwr University and the British Shakespeare Association, as well as a fellow of the English Association and a member of the Academia Europaea. He has published widely in the area of Shakespeare studies and contributed a number of book chapters and journal articles. Drakakis is the editor of the Arden 3 edition of The Merchant of Venice and Alternative Shakespeares, the general editor of the Routledge New Critical Idiom series, and the general and contributing editor to the revision of The Narrative and Dramatic Sources of Shakespeare. 

Professor Michael Scott (moderator) is Senior Dean and Fellow of Blackfriars Hall, college adviser for postgraduate students, and a Member of the Las Casas Institute at the University of Oxford. He also serves as senior adviser to the president at Georgetown University. Scott was on the editorial board which relaunched Critical Survey from Oxford University Press. Scott previously served as the pro vice chancellor at De Montfort University and founding vice chancellor of Wrexham Glyndwr University.