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Course Description

Revenge, as the adage goes, is a dish best served cold. Nonetheless, the intensity of this subject heats up the page, stage, and canvas of classic and contemporary art. The desire to retaliate for grievous wrongs governs works as diverse as the novels "True Grit" and "The Round House," the tragedy "Medea," and the Sondheim musical "Sweeney Todd." Stories by Poe, Dahl, and Atwood (which can be found online) and paintings by Caravaggio and Gentileschi vividly portray this need to let no transgression (real or imagined) go unpunished. After a brief historical overview of the revenge genre, we shall speculate on reasons for its enduring popularity and examine the role revenge plays in the above works; the questions it raises about justice, violence, and morality; and the ways artists craft their materials to engage the reader. It is my hope that the subject Francis Bacon described as a “kind of wild justice” that is seen in these works will generate lively and thoughtful discussions. Facilitated Discussions; Viewing Videos.

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