Enlightened Citizenship in Lessing’s Emilia Galotti and Mozart’s Lucio Silla

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This essay looks at two theatrical pieces, Lessing's tragedy Emilia Galotti and Mozart's 'opera seria' Lucio Silla (which both premiered in 1772), as case studies in defining the relationship between Enlightenment and public citizenship. My reading seeks to identify the political dimension of both dramas - a dimension that does not manifest itself in the form of a proposed political program, but rather through the dilemmas faced by the (female) protagonists in both dramas and the solutions they propose. Both dramas open up a space for what can be perceived and articulated as relevant in the public domain. This paper also asks the question of how we are to interpret the role of specific genres (tragedy and opera seria) in relation to society. Taking a number of ideas of Jacques Rancière as its starting point, the paper proposes a new way of reading the political in relation to the aesthetic in the late eighteenth century. Finally, the comparison between Lucio Silla and Emilia Galotti is used for a series of deliberations on the state of comparative literary and cultural studies today.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationTaking Stock – Twenty-Five Years of Comparative Literary Research
EditorsNorbert Bachleitner, Achim Hölter, John A McCarthy
Number of pages31
ISBN (Electronic)9789004410350
ISBN (Print)9789004408289
StatePublished - 2020

Publication series

NameInternationale Forschungen zur Allgemeinen und Vergleichenden Literaturwissenschaft
ISSN (Print)0929-6999


  • citizenship
  • enlightenment
  • Lessing
  • Mozart
  • politics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Literature and Literary Theory


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