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Unit information: Revenge Tragedy in 2016/17

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Unit name Revenge Tragedy
Unit code ENGL29008
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Lesel Dawson
Open unit status Not open
Pre-requisites

None

Co-requisites

None

School/department Department of English
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description

Revenge has been a central preoccupation from Aeschylus to Tarantino. Acts of vengeance raise perplexing questions about the ethical meaning of retribution, the responsibilities of the living to the dead, and the relationship between mourning and memory. This course will explore the representation of revenge across a wide selection of literary texts, some of which will be read in translation. Among the topics investigated will be: tensions between the vengeance of the individual and the operations of law, the moral and emotional transformation of the revenger, the haunting presence of the dead, and ideas about pollution and expiation. Starting with plays from the classical period which form an essential background to revenge tragedy of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, we will study a range of tragedies, relating individual texts to dramatic ideas of genre, to traditions and conventions of stage representation, and to the historical contexts of the period.

Aims:

This unit aims to introduce a principal dramatic genre of English Renaissance drama. Starting with plays from the classical period which form an essential background to revenge tragedy of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, students will study a range of tragedies, relating individual texts to dramatic ideas of genre, to traditions and conventions of stage representation and to the historical contexts of the period.

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of the unit, students should be able to

  1. recognise, describe and analyse formal and generic characteristics of revenge tragedy,
  2. show an understanding of how revenge tragedy develops and changes in different historical periods,
  3. be able to relate texts to the conventions and contexts which conditioned them.

Teaching details

1 x 2 hour seminar per week.

Assessment Details

  • 1 essay of 2000 words (40%)
  • 1 essay of 3000 words (60%)

Both summative essays map onto ILOs 1-3.

Reading and References

Seneca, Phaedra

Kyd, The Spanish Tragedy

Middleton, The Revenger’s Tragedy

Margaret Atwood, Cat’s Eye

Clint Eastwood (dir.), Unforgiven

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