History | A History of Violence
W300 | 12482 | Anklin


Above class open to undergraduates and EDUC MA's only

Course Description:
The intentional infliction of physical harm may be the only constant
characteristic of the human condition.  Violence has been a part of
virtually all societies in all periods of human history.  In this
course we will investigate how different societies in particular
since the French Revolution of 1789 have dealt with and understood
political violence.  While part of our goal will be to explain why
political violence occurs, we will also try to understand how people
have experienced and explained to themselves the violent epochs in
which they lived, and how they talked and wrote about this
experience.  This is not a course for those who are simply
fascinated by violence, and we are neither likely to ponder the
question why we cannot all just get along.  The objective of this
course is to better understand through the study of political
violence the complexities of human society and hopefully to gain a
more complete understanding of the human condition in the process.
The events and phenomena we will study include colonization,
revolution, imperialism, World War I and trench warfare, fascism,
the Holocaust and other genocides, World War II, decolonization,
terrorism, and torture.

Course Requirements:
There are no prerequisites for this course. Students will have to
write a five-page-paper about the short book The Question by Henri
Alleg, a French torture victim during the French-Algerian War (1954-
1962).  There will be a midterm exam, a final exam, and short weekly
reading response papers. We will read various articles from our
textbook, Violence in War and Peace: An Anthology, edited by Nancy
Scheper-Hughes, and Philippe I. Bourgois, and excerpts from the
writings and speeches of Maximilien Robespierre, Ernst Jünger,
Hitler, Mahatma Gandhi, Haile Selassie, Frantz Fanon, Ho Chi Minh,
and others, available on e-reserves or online.  Several
documentaries, movies, and movie clips, and other media will
complete the class sessions.

IMPORTANT: While this course by no means intends to glorify or
trivialize violence, students are advised that texts describing at
times gruesome events will be discussed and footage or fictional
depictions of violence may be watched in class. Students will have
the option of not watching the footage, but they are obligated to do
all the readings.