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Unit information: Revenge Tragedy in 2020/21

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. Ian Calvert
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. Students will be given the opportunity to submit a draft or outline of their final essay of up to 1,500 words and to receive feedback on this.

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.

Students will be given the opportunity to submit a draft or outline of their final, summative essay of up to 1,000 words and to receive feedback on this.

Intended learning outcomes

By the successful completion of this unit, students will 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. relate texts to the conventions and contexts that conditioned them;
  4. analyse literary texts within both a historical and theoretical context;
  5. demonstrate skills in academic writing appropriate to level I.

Teaching details

Teaching will involve asynchronous and synchronous elements, including group discussion, research and writing activities, and peer dialogue. Students are expected to engage with the reading and participate fully with the weekly tasks and topics. Learning will be further supported through the opportunity for individual consultation.

Assessment Details

  • 1 x 3000 word essay (100%) [ILOs 1-5]

Reading and References

Aeschylus, Agamemnon

Thomas Middleton, The Revenger’s Tragedy

Margaret Atwood, Cat’s Eye

Clint Eastwood (dir.), Unforgiven

Lesel Dawson and Fiona McHardy (eds), Revenge and Gender in Classical, Medieval and Renaissance Literature

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