History | Terror and Technology
B303 | 5222 | Lary


Above class open to undergraduates and EDUC MA's only

Course Description:

This course offers an introduction to the study of terrorism and its
relationship to technology. 9/11, it is often said, signified a
dramatic break in the way we view our own lives and the possibility
for freedom within them. The destruction of the Twin Towers
constituted an unprecedented act of political violence aimed at
American civilians. With the use of relatively simple technology, or
so it appears, a handful of individuals were able to kill thousands
of innocent lives by destroying two seemingly infallible
architectural structures. How could this have happened?

In this course, we will explore this question and many more, by
employing a comparative historical approach.  This course is
therefore not solely about 9/11, but about the phenomena of terror
as it has evolved in many countries in the modern world.  Our focus
will be on a wide array of groups, technologies, and events which
have been understood, at one time or another, under the rubric of
terror.  A few of the groups that will be examined include:
Hezbollah, the Suffragette Movement, environmental terrorism, and
The Red Army Faction. Though the primary approach of this course
will be historical, we will also integrate perspectives from
political science, sociology, and philosophy on occasion as well.
Similarly, students are encouraged to develop their own historical
interdisciplinary analysis, in discussions and in writing, to fit
their interests and academic background.

Course Goals:

This class aids students to better understand the following key
questions
a)	What is terrorism? Keeping in mind a variety of historic
case studies from around the world, who decides which acts of
political violence are labeled terrorism? Is there a legitimate
distinction between terrorists and freedom fighters? Between “right-
wing” and “left-wing” terror? Individual, state, or corporate
terrorism?
b)  	What is it about the means and weapons used in terrorist
activity that causes so much fear and destruction? How have
terror tactics influenced counter-terrorism measures, and vice versa?
c)  	What is the relationship between terrorism, modernity, and
democracy?

Assignments:

Reading selections will include secondary materials such as AK-47:
The Story of the People’s Gun as well as excerpts from Fyodor
Dostoevsky’s The Possessed and Edward Abbey’s The Monkey Wrench
Gang.  Primary documents will include “The Unabomber’s Manifesto”
and Osama Bin Laden’s “Letter to America.”   Among documentaries, we
will view Independent Lens: The Weather Underground, and The Road to
Guantanamo.  There will be a midterm, final, and a research
paper/presentation.