2023-2024 Catalog 
    Jun 13, 2024  
2023-2024 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

ENG 252 - Vengeance


“O what a brilliant day it is for vengeance!” – Aeschylus, ancient Greek playwright In this course, we’ll trace the origins of our modern fascination with vengeance in older ideas of honor & shame, justice, fatalism, savagery, and righteousness. And we’ll examine the way Ancient, Medieval and Renaissance literature lays the foundation for our own culture’s relationship to violence (a relationship that is artistic, moral, and social). Readings will be focused primarily upon fictional texts, but we’ll also enrich our understanding of the vengeance/mercy theme with supplemental readings. We’ll look at theological ideas of atonement, legalistic conceptions of vengeance as a way to restore balance to the scales of justice, and historical documents that record efforts to stem feud and create peace. In our class discussions, we’ll consider philosophers’ efforts to cast “revenge as a kind of wild justice” outside the bounds of natural law. And, we’ll draw on readings on the psychology of anger to better understand the motives that drive individuals to revenge, the goals that the avenger seeks, the pleasures (and, perhaps surprisingly, the lack of satisfaction) the pursuit of vengeance provided to premodern peoples. No prerequisites. Spring. Group III: Humanities. Writing option.