Vygotsky’s Tragedy: Hamlet and the Psychology of Art

Tania Zittoun & Paul Stenner

Résumé Lev S. Vygotsky is one of the major figures of psychology; however, his deep engagement with the arts is less known. This
is surprising, given the fact that the arts, and especially Shakespeare’s Hamlet, are present throughout his career. In this
article, we argue, first, that Hamlet was a major symbolic resource for Vygotsky in times of liminal transitions, and second,
that it is this very deep experience of having been transformed by means of Hamlet that grounds his psychology of art,
which aims precisely to show how Hamlet works as a “technique of emotions.” Our demonstration is organized into three
main movements. In Part 1, we retrace the historical and cultural context in which Vygotsky grew up as a young man. We
emphasize his experiences of liminality and transitions, due to transformations of the social world and his own life. In Part
2, we examine Vygotsky’s proposition itself through a close analysis of his Psychology of art. Finally, in Part 3, we further
explicate the relation between art and life at play in Vygotsky’s approach and relate this to Vygotsky’s broader psychology.
Mots-clés Vygotsky, aesthetics, liminality, transition, cultural psychology, psychology of art, Hamlet
Citation Zittoun, T., & Stenner, P. (2021). Vygotsky’s Tragedy: Hamlet and the Psychology of Art. Review of General Psychology, 0(0), 1-16.
Type Article de périodique (Anglais)
Date de publication 4-9-2021
Nom du périodique Review of General Psychology
Volume 0
Numéro 0
Pages 1-16
URL https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/108926802110...