Transforming the massacre of the innocents through art, theatre, and film

Jolyon Mitchell, Linzy Brady

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Through this illustrated chapter, Jolyon Mitchell and Linzy Brady consider how the story of the Massacre of the Innocents (from the Gospel of Matthew) has been transformed through appropriation, adaptation and elaboration. They analyse how this brief, ancient, biblical story (Matthew 2.16-18) is used to reflect upon more recent events of injustice, horror and tragedy. They demonstrate how this compressed tale of slaughter has exerted a powerful imaginative hold. Mitchell and Brady critically consider journalistic reports, literary imaginings, artistic representations, theatrical enactments, and cinematic portrayals. They explore how it has resonated through the centuries and has a rich and extensive afterlife, which reflects evolving understandings of tragedy. Examples from literature, art, theatre and film are used to interrogate different kinds of representation and transformation of tragedy. This detailed analysis raises a number of questions such as: What is an appropriate representation of this tragic tale when artistic beauty sharply contrasts with actual extreme violence against innocent children? Drawing upon a wide range of examples, the authors move from motherhood and massacre in art in the Middle Ages to political representations of genocide and war on the stage and screen in the twenty-first century.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Transformations of Tragedy
Subtitle of host publicationChristian Influences from Early Modern to Modern
EditorsErik Tonning, Fionnuala O'Neil Tonning, Jolyon Mitchell
Place of PublicationLeiden
ISBN (Print)9789004416543, 9789004416536
Publication statusPublished - 27 Nov 2019

Publication series

NameStudies in Religion and the Arts


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