Revenge on Mondays, Death on Wednesdays at CMU
Courses explore the meaning of revenge, death,
life and happiness
This fall, it’s revenge on Mondays and death on Wednesdays at Canadian
Mennonite University (CMU).
No, nothing criminal or violent is happening at the university. Revenge and
death are just two courses that Winnipeggers can take at CMU this coming
In Revenge, offered by the English department, students can explore
its cultural and theological meanings through a range of literary forms. “We’ll
take the topic revenge head-on, using plays, films, and books from Euripides’
Medea to Shakespeare’s Hamlet to Tarentino’s Kill Bill,” says
English professor Paul Dyck.
Through the course, students will be able to think about why revenge has such
a strong grip on society—is it a simple evil, or is it directed toward some
good? Is it about self-satisfaction, or about duty and justice?
“We tend to think of revenge as barbaric, but we nonetheless seem to find it
compelling, so much so that it is one of the most common themes in classical and
popular stories,” says Dyck, adding that “revenge stories portray human life at
its best and worst. That’s where the theological angle comes in. Ultimately,
these stories portray how deeply intertwined we are with other people, and how
there is no simple way of dealing with violence against us and our loved ones.”
The full title of the death course, taught by philosophy professor Chris
Huebner, is Life, Death, and the Question of Happiness.
“One of the paradoxes of our culture is that we seem to be simultaneously
enthralled with and repelled by death,” says Huebner. “On the one hand, we seek
to avoid it at all costs, yet on the other we are constantly bombarded by images
that celebrate death in one way or another.”
Through the course, students will be able to explore some contemporary
philosophical and theological approaches to life and death, particularly as they
relate to the question of happiness.
“Most people find themselves confused about how to understand the meaning of
life and death, let alone what they might have to do with the question of
happiness,” says Huebner.
Those who aren’t interested in revenge or death, but who are still interested
in crime, can take The Detective in Fiction and Film, also being offered
this fall on Wednesdays from 6-8:45 p.m.
The course, taught by English professor Sue Sorensen, will use the classic
tales of Poe, Conan Doyle, Christie, Chandler and the modern and post-modern
“metaphysical” mysteries of Borges, Chesterton, and Auster to ask how people
gain knowledge, recognize truth and justice and respond to evil. Film detectives
in The Big Sleep and The Maltese Falcon will be added to the mix.
Revenge is taught Mondays, 6-8:45 p.m., beginning September 10. Life, Death,
and the Question of Happiness and The Detective in Fiction and Film
are taught Wednesdays, 6-8:45 p.m., beginning September 12.
For more information, or to register, call the Dean’s Office at 487-3300.
Posted September 4, 2007
For more information contact CMU Communications Director, 500 Shaftesbury Blvd., Winnipeg, Manitoba R3P 2N2, telephone: 204-487-3300 ext. 621, fax: 204-889-1694, (www.cmu.ca)