What is violence? What do we mean by it? Is it innate or learned? Are we becoming more or less violent?
These are all questions that we will ask throughout this course. A History of Violence will examine the different types of violence that humans have practiced over the centuries, put them into historical context, and try to understand why those different forms of violence are used at particular times, and not others; why some kinds of violence are accepted in some parts of the world but not others?
Violence is part and parcel of human history and of human nature. It has been there since the dawn of time and it is, arguably, at the core of what it is to be human. It is the one thing that all cultures and societies, across, time, share in common. It is one of humanity’s most distinctive traits.
This course will look at different theories and approaches to studying human violence beginning with a foray into pre-history, before focusing more fully on the different uses of violence in western history, from the middle ages onwards. Topics include: the origins of violence; gendered violence; homicide; public executions and torture; and colonial violence.