Revenge (TRU3040)

StaffDr Chloe Preedy - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF Level6
Pre-requisitesApplications to take this module by students who have not taken at least 30 credits in English at L2 will be assessed by the module convener and the Director of Education (Penryn Humanities) on a case-by-case basis.
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks;

Module aims

The scope of this module will range from from classical tragedy (in translation) to modern cinema, providing an opportunity to explore the changing cultural and literary significance of revenge. The structure of the course is broadly chronological, with seminars on classical, medieval, early modern, nineteenth-century and twentieth-century revenge texts. As well as shedding new light on well-known literary works, the module encourages reflection upon how popular contemporary forms such as crime fiction and cinematic retribution relate to the long-standing tradition of writing revenge. Prose, poetry and drama are all represented among the core readings, and there will be optional screenings of relevant film adaptations. Students are also encouraged to relate the module’s core thematic focus to their own interests and experience, by evaluating a revenge text of their choice for the review assignment. Through preparing for essays and seminars, engaging in seminar discussions and activities, and completing assignments that involve writing for different purposes, students on this module will practise their skills of written and verbal communication, team-work, and independently completing tasks to set deadlines. As these abilities are often essential within a workplace environment, the module will provide students with important transferrable skills. By the end of this module, students will have become familiar with a substantial body of literary and creative works, from classical epics to contemporary films, and will be able to potentially put the knowledge and the skills they have acquired through this course to practical use when pursuing future careers in (for instance) the media, communication, creative, education, and arts sectors.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. demonstrate informed appreciation of the nature, history and function of revenge as a literary theme,
  • 2. demonstrate informed appreciation of specific works of revenge literature and film,
  • 3. demonstrate an informed appreciation of the relation between literature and film and the important historical, intellectual and social developments of different historical periods,
  • 4. demonstrate an advanced ability to engage with concepts such as authorship, society, gender, religion and the uses of revenge.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 5. demonstrate an ability to analyse the literature (and film) of an earlier era and to relate its concerns and its modes of expression to its specific historical moment,
  • 6. demonstrate an advanced ability to interrelate texts and discourses with issues in the wider context of cultural and intellectual history,
  • 7. demonstrate an advanced ability to understand and analyse relevant theoretical ideas, and to apply these ideas to literary texts.

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 8. through seminar work, demonstrate communication skills, and an ability to work both individually and in groups,
  • 9. through essay-writing, demonstrate appropriate research and bibliographic skills, a capacity to construct a coherent, substantiated argument, and a capacity to write clear and correct prose,
  • 10. through research for seminars and essays, demonstrate proficiency in information retrieval and analysis.

Syllabus plan


1)     Introduction to Revenge: Homer, Iliad

2)     Attic Tragedy: Euripides, Medea

3)     Medieval Feuds: Anon., Njáls Saga

4)     Roman Revenge: Ovid, Metamorphoses [extract]; Shakespeare, Titus Andronicus

5)     A Life for A Life?: Marlowe, The Jew of Malta

6)     Week 6: no taught seminars

7)     Challenging Society: Brontë, Wuthering Heights

8)     Supernatural Vengeance?: Poe, Selected Tales [extracts]; Hawthorne, The House of the Seven Gables [extract]

9)     Criminal Method: Conan Doyle, The Adventures and the Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes [extracts]; Christie, Murder on the Orient Express

10)   Close to Home?: Miller, A View From the Bridge; Wertenbaker, The Love of the Nightingale

11)   Avenging Nature: Hughes, The Iron Woman; Plath and Hughes, selected verse

12)   Cinematic Retribution: Nolan, dir., Memento; Tarantino, dir., Django Unchained

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Lecture1111x1 hour lectures
Seminars2211x2 hour seminars
Guided independent study267Reading, researching, writing, seminar preparation, ELE- and web-based activity, attending office hours with tutor

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay plan500 words1,2,3,9,10verbal feedback in booked tutorial

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Review151,000 words2,6,10Written feedback, plus verbal feedback in booked tutorial
Essay 1352,000 words1,2,3,4,7,9,10Written feedback, plus verbal feedback in booked tutorial
Essay 2503,000 words1,2,3,4,6,7,9,10Written feedback

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Review 1,000 wordsReview 1,000 words2, 6, 10Referral/deferral period
Essay 1Essay 1 2,000 words1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 9, 10Referral/deferral period
Essay 2 Essay 2 3,000 words1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 9, 10Referral/deferral period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Basic Reading List (try Amazon Marketplace or Abebooks online, but don’t order as a ‘print on demand’ or facsimile – these are often both expensive and unreliable):


Primary Reading:

You will need to bring copies of these texts to the relevant seminar (with the exception of the two films, which you should watch at least once and ideally twice in advance of the seminar). Various editions of most of these works are available, although I have indicated recommended editions in each case. The works in bold font must be acquired in the specified edition, as the available translations can vary significantly.


* Euripides, ‘Medea’ and Other Plays, trans. James Morwood, ed. Edith Hall, Oxford World’s Classics(Oxford, 2008)

* Homer, The Iliad of Homer, trans. Richard Lattimore, ed. Richard P. Martin (Chicago, 2011)

Agatha Christie, Murder on the Orient Express (Harper, 2007)

Ted Hughes, The Iron Woman, Faber & Faber (London, 2005)

Arthur Miller, A View from the Bridge (London, 2010)


You may also wish to buy hard copies of the following works, which are alternatively available as e-books through the University of Exeter library catalogue:


Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights, ed. Pauline Nestor, Penguin Classics (London, 2003)

William Shakespeare, Titus Andronicus, ed. Jonathan Bate, Arden Shakespeare (Arden, 1995)

Timberlake Wertenbaker, The Love of the Nightingale (London, 2013)

 ELE – College to provide hyperlink to appropriate pages

Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Web based and electronic resources:



Project Muse



Nineteenth-Century British Library Newspapers

Proquest Historical Newspapers (Guardian and Observer)

Times Digital Archive

Indicative learning resources - Other resources


Memento, dir. Christopher Nolan (2000)

Django Unchained, dir. Quentin Tarantino (2013)


Recommended Secondary Reading (indicative):


You need not purchase these texts, but please consider reading them during the course of the module.


A.P. Burnett, Revenge in Attic and Later Tragedy (Berkeley, 1998)

John Kerrigan, Revenge Tragedy: Aeschylus to Armageddon (Oxford, 1997)

A. D. Nuttall, Why Does Tragedy Give Pleasure? (New York and Oxford, 2003) 

Adrian Poole, Tragedy: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford and New York, 2005)

Martin Priestman, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Crime Fiction (Cambridge, 2003)

Thomas Rist, Revenge Tragedy and the Drama of Commemoration in Reforming England (Aldershot, 2008)

Stevie Simkin, Early Modern Tragedy and the Cinema of Violence(Basingstoke, 2005)

Judith L. Sutherland, The Problematic Fictions of Poe, James, and Hawthorne (Columbia, 1984)

Jennifer Wallace, The Cambridge Introduction to Tragedy (Cambridge, 2007)

Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date


Key words search

Revenge, vengeance, retribution, tragedy, justice, law, literature, violence, classical, medieval, early modern, Victorian, Gothic, film