HST 345 - The History of Violence

Do we live in a society that is more, less or just as violent as previous ones? This course seeks to develop an answer to that question by exploring the history of attitudes toward the use of violence from Ancient Greece to the present age. Before undertaking an exploration of the enactment, control and representation of violence in various historical eras, we will first examine the insights which other fields of research [psychology, primate anthropology, cultural anthropology, biology, neuroscience, philosophy and literary criticism] offer for our understanding of why humans choose to favor or shun violent behavior. Then we will undertaken an exploration of historical periods [mainly from Western Civilization] with a particular focus on: changes in attitude toward the legitimacy of violence for resolving conflicts [especially interpersonal conflicts]; channels for violence and aggression; the influence of state formation/deformation, law, religion, honor, custom, and gender on the use of violence; the presence, or lack, of a 'civilizing process'.
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Spring 2019, Fall 2018, Spring 2018, Fall 2017
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