We have all been repeatedly enjoined to "forgive and forget" or to "turn the other cheek." The desirability of forgiveness is often taken for granted, while the complexity of the process of overcoming anger is often overlooked. In this course, we will consider the ethics and politics of forgiveness as well as its opposite - retribution - through readings of literary works, religious texts (including the New Testament and the Talmud), and legal theory. We will explore the different roles of forgiveness and retribution can play in asserting the integrity of persons and in restoring a community's faith in itself and its institutions. Is forgiveness always compatible with self-respect, or can moral indignation and the desire for vengeance preserve and essential kind of dignity? If forgiveness must be extended by an individual who has had a genuine change of heart, to what extent is it possible to encourage forgiveness through such communal, legal processes as the hearings of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission? When is justice served by vengeance? How can we respond to crimes that seem unforgivable or unpunishable? Attention will also be given to the issue of confession: confession can help both victims and perpetrators come to terms with wrongdoing, but many worry that the juridical practice of suspending punishment in order to learn the truth about the past sacrifices the claims of justice.