Getting even is an odd business, and one with a long history. In this seminar, we will explore how vengeance is performed — in ways that extend from the horrific to the comic and the parodic, and across a range of time periods and cultures. Thinking about the desire for revenge not just as basic to human psychology, but as a complex cultural response, we will aim at a deeper understanding of the mechanics, ethics and aesthetics of payback. Works studied will range from Aeschylus’ The Orestaia to contemporary cinema (e.g., Peter Greenaway’s The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover or Park Chan-Wook’s Vengeance Trilogy ). Accompanying theoretical texts from such writers as Nietzsche, René Girard, and Walter Benjamin will open different perspectives on this dramatic mode.