'Shall we not revenge?’ Experts to discuss the culture and politics of vengeance

Posted by ap507 at Aug 06, 2015 11:50 AM |
Conference on Friday 4 September will examine topics such as revenge porn, terrorism, bullying and portrayals of revenge in film

Issued by the University of Leicester Press Office on 6 August 2015

If you prick us, do we not bleed?

if you tickle us, do we not laugh?

if you poison us, do we not die?

and if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?

-      William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

Experts are to gather at the University of Leicester to examine the human motivations behind that most destructive of human emotions: revenge.

Topics ranging from revenge porn and terrorism, to vengeance in exploitation films, will be discussed at ‘Reflections on Revenge: a conference on the culture and politics of vengeance’ taking place on Friday 4 September 2015 at the University’s award-winning College Court Conference Centre and Hotel.

Academics and artists have long asked what motivates revenge, what course does it run, and what is its impact on individuals, societies and global history. This conference will, for the first time, bring together expertise from an array of disciplines to bear on complex and controversial issues relating to revenge.

This includes revenge starting with the smallest workplace slights, through family disputes and lynch mobs; and from revenge porn to blood feuds, to political violence, war and terrorism. Talks at the conference consider revenge in diverse contexts from South Africa to Romania to Pakistan, in literature and poetry, and through history to contemporary issues such as organised crime and school bullying.

Among a range of international scholars reflecting on such acts of revenge and other themes of vengeance, there will be a keynote lecture by human rights lawyer Philippe Sands QC and author of Lawless World: Making and Breaking Global Rules.

Organiser Dr Sarah Hodgkinson, from the University’s Department of Criminology, said: “This interdisciplinary conference will explore who seeks revenge and why, how it is done, how it is justified, how it is represented, how it feels to get revenge or be on the receiving end.

“Although it cuts across so many different aspects of our life, from interpersonal relations, to international conflicts and wars, research in the area is still in its infancy, and little has been done to explore it within an interdisciplinary framework.

“We hope to take this forward with this conference, and begin to think about the origins of revenge, what purpose it serves, in what contexts does revenge play a part in our motivations, what outcomes result, and explore a range of examples of revenge, by bringing together leading scholars in this new and exciting field.”

As well as publishing the collected papers as an edited book, the conference will form a multimedia event that contributes to the production of a documentary on revenge by award-winning film-makers Rex Bloomstein, also a Leicester honorary graduate, and Justin Temple (RexEntertainment).

Rex Bloomstein and Justin Temple commented: “That burning desire to teach someone a lesson, to make them suffer, is an impulse that is familiar to us all. It is one of the fundamentals of the human psyche. It’s all around us – revenge has been dramatised in films, literature, music and other forms of popular culture for millennia. But do we understand it? Do we even acknowledge it?

“The concept of pure revenge is known to all people and all times. It is distinct from other forms of retaliation in that it’s motivated by a vindictive and emotional desire to harm. It is not designed to end a confrontation, repair a relationship or produce material gain; it serves no other purpose than to deliver emotional satisfaction, despite the fact it is often detrimental to those who take it.”

Dr Hodgkinson added: “We hope that the topics discussed will feed into the existing public interest in psychology and crime, and international affairs. It will help us reflect upon the role of revenge in the global events that we hear about in the news, as well as on a smaller scale in terms of our own personal relationships.

“We also hope that it will reflect on moving beyond revenge, to recognising a desire for revenge and taking more proactive action, again relevant on the smaller scale to our own personal relationships, but also of interest to understanding wider world events. In this sense, for example, it should also appeal to practitioners thinking about avoiding revenge motivations in countries recovering post-conflict.”

‘Reflections on Revenge: a conference on the culture and politics of vengeance’ will take place on 4 September 2015 at College Court Conference Centre and Hotel. Book your place by clicking here.


Notes to Editors:

For more information please contact: revenge@le.ac.uk

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