Cross-Listed Courses (TBA as available)

Centre for Comparative Literature:



M. Nyquist


Spring term, Tuesdays, 12-3

This course will reflect on representations of acts of revenge and resistance that are produced in historical contexts that privilege law's rule. How is revenge - or its more civil counterpart, "retribution" - related to or differentiated from resistance, whether personal or political, individual or collective? If revenge is disparaged, how is its objectionable character established? In what contexts and by what means is resistance represented as legitimate or even positive? We will explore questions such as these by discussing relations among revenge, resistance, and "race"(in the earlier sense of "inheritance" or "nation" as well as in racialized regimes of oppression) as they appear in a variety of literary texts from three eras: ancient Athens and Rome; earlymodern England, France and Spain; and the age of Revolutions. Of interest will be the rezeptionsgeschichte of texts -or, in the case of the Haitian Revolution, events -in which relations among revenge, resistance and "race" are unstable, have frequently been revisioned, or have been interpreted in radically different terms.

Texts will include: Aeschylus's Oresteia, Euripides' Medea and Hecuba, and Livy's narrative of Rome's founding in History of Rome; variants of the tale of Rodrigo and La Cava, related to Islam's conquest of Spain, selected essays by Montaigne, Shakespeare's Lucrece, Othello, and Hamlet, and Milton's Paradise Lost (selected books); Victor Hugo, Bug-Jargal; von Kleist's Michael Kohlhaas and Die Verlobung in St. Domingo; M. Shelley's Frankenstein; P. Shelley's Prometheus Unbound, and both poetry and prose written in response to the Haitian revolution.


We won't be using all three hours but have them scheduled in case class discussion requires a bit more time. Course evaluation rests on Facilitations or Co-facilitations of seminar discussions of readings (20%); Research-review essay (30%); Participation (20%); Final essay (30%).