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Outreach and Impact

We are planning a number of outreach and impact activities designed to bring the work of Heinrich von Kleist and the themes of our project – violence and education – to the attention of the general public.

Our most recent events have been:

Vengeance is mine – or what happens when law and order break down.

Date: Monday, 26th November 2012 (9:30-16:45)

Venue: Westwood Teaching Centre, University of Warwick

A one-day Sixth Form Conference on the relationship between violence, revenge, and the collapse of law and order. The aim of this conference was to invite Sixth Form students to reflect on what happens when legal structures break down and individuals are denied their rights before the law. Taking as its starting point John Badow’s film The Jack Bull (1999) the conference was targeted at students interested in studying law and explored such questions as:

  • Do individuals have the right to seek justice for themselves when the law fails them?
  • What is the difference between punishment and revenge?
  • Are there crimes that should not – or perhaps cannot – be forgiven?
  • Is justice something absolute – or does it always involve a compromise?
  • At what point does an individual’s pursuit of justice turn into fanaticism?

The Jack Bull is a gripping Western set in the state of Wyoming at the end of the nineteenth century and tells the story of Myrl Redding (John Cusack), a horse-trader whose quest for justice turns into an armed uprising against the state when he is denied his rights. The film is based on the short story Michael Kohlhaas by the German writer Heinrich von Kleist; a story that is itself based on a historical figure whose attempt to secure justice through armed rebellion has inspired a range of films and novels. As well as students thinking about studying Law, we also targeted students with an interest in Film Studies, and we considered the following issues:

  • How does popular cinema engage with questions of justice and morality?
  • What is a Western – and how is it used to depict the struggle between good and evil?
  • How does cinema mobilise the viewer’s emotions – and to what end?
  • What concepts of masculinity does the film appeal to?
  • How does the film address the conflict between ‘the Wild West’ and ‘civilisation’?

During the day students gained first-hand experience of the type of activities that University students engage in when they explore complex issues through the study of film and literature. It was also an opportunity for studnts to develop their analytical and presentation skills. In addition to attending a special screening of the film and hearing an introductory lecture, students had the the opportunity to work in small groups discussing particular topics, and to prepare a presentation of your team’s discussion for the final session which they presented at the end of the day to all the other groups. So whether they were interested in the Law, in Film Studies, or just want to get some first-hand experience of what studying at university would be like, all students got something from the day!

If you would like to take part in a future event of this kind please contact: Annunziata Videtta at the University of Warwick


09:30 – 10:00 Arrival and Registration

10:00 – 10:15 Introduction to the Day

10:15 – 11:00 Lecture: “Vengeance is mine! Michael Kohlhaas, Myrl Redding and the quest for justice” (Dr Seán Allan)

11:00 – 11:15 Break

11:15 – 13:15 Film Screening: The Jack Bull (dir. John Badham, 1999)

13:15 – 14:00 Lunch

14:00 – 14:10 Allocation of Topics/Groups

14:10 – 15:30 Group Work

15:30 – 15:45 Break

15:45-16:30 Group Presentations and Feedback

16:30-16:45 Evaluation and Close

 Women and violence in the Age of Austen. European Perspectives on Violence – Heinrich von Kleist Die Marquise von O...

Date: Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Venue: Westwood Teaching Centre

"In M…, an important town in northern Italy, the widowed Marquise von O…, a lady of unblemished reputation and the mother of several well-brought up children, inserted the following announcement in the newspapers; that she had, without knowledge of the cause, come to find herself in a certain situation; that she would like the father of the child she was expecting to disclose his identity to her; and that she was resolved, out of consideration for her family, to marry him."

Written by the German writer Heinrich von Kleist (1777-1811), the novella The Marquise von O… explores one of the key issues that troubled the thinkers of the European Enlightenment: what are the causes of violence and how should crimes of violence be dealt with. Eric Rohmer's film adaptation of the story explores the efforts of an aristocratic woman to maintain her standing in polite society as she struggles to come to terms with the fact that, while unconscious, she has been raped by a man she both loves and admires. Like the story on which it based, it shows the difficulties of negotiating complex structures of class and gender during the early nineteenth century.

Group discussions of the film focused on the following topics:

  • Violence and its causes Rape and the Law
  • Patriarchal power and women in 19th-Century European society
  • Crime and punishment – are there crimes that cannot (or should not be) forgiven?
  • Forgiveness – what is it, and what are its preconditions?
  • Heritage cinema – adapting the classics for the screen


09:30 – 10:00 Arrival and Registration

10:00 – 10:15 Introduction to the 'Age of Austen'

10:15 – 11:00 Lecture: “Women and Violence in the Age of Austen. Heinrich von Kleist's Die Marquise von O....” (Dr Seán Allan)

11:00 – 11:15 Break

11:15 – 13:15 Film Screening: Die Marquise von O... (dir. Eric Rohmer, 1976)

13:15 – 14:00 Lunch

14:00 – 14:10 Allocation of Topics/Groups

14:10 – 15:30 Group Work

15:30 – 15:45 Break

15:45-16:30 Group Presentations and Feedback

16:30-16:45 Evaluation and Close

Jack Bull

John Badham's The Jack Bull (1999) – based on Heinrich von Kleist's Michael Kohlhaas.


Eric Rohmer's classic screen adaptation of Heinrich von Kleist's Die Marquise von O... (1976).







Student-led group discussions...

9b.jpgStudent-led group discussions....


Course-convenors listening in...


Plenary presentations...

8b.jpgPlenary presentations...


...for an attentive audience...


The end of the day.....