Week 1: The Nature of Violence
Theories of ‘pure’ hunter gathers, primates as model for hunter-gather behaviour, anthropology, and evolutionary psychology will be examined as a basis for the origins of violence. We will explore early records from rock art and archaeological discoveries.
Week 2: Intimate and Gendered Violence
Violence in the intimacy of the family, usually committed by men against women and children, but also against slaves and servants, has been a constant throughout history. The phenomenon will be examined using concepts of moral hierarchy, and from legal-cultural and political perspectives. This includes examining sexual violence, as well as the violence perpetrated by women against children, and in particular infanticide.
Week 3: Interpersonal Violence
This week will look at the history of homicide, including the modern fascination with the serial killer, and the dramatic variation in homicide rates between different countries. Comparing varying rates of homicide in North American and Western Europe, it grounds the discussion in debates around “the civilizing process” and examines the role of masculinity, honour, feuding, and duelling in interpersonal violence.
Week 4: The Sacred and the Secular: Persecutions and Public Executions
The evolution of the criminal justice system, changing attitudes over time towards public executions and torture, and the role of both the Church and the state will be explored. This week will look at both the sacred and the secular nature of violence in the Early Modern era, including the persecution of heretics and witches, the reasons why the crowd (or the mob) can turn violent, the kinds of behaviours that are possible, and the reasons for the decline in mob violence over the centuries.
Week 5: Collective Violence
Violence is not only carried out by individuals against other individuals, but also by collectives against both individuals and other collectives. By looking at the behaviour of crowds and the reasons why they riot, rebel, and turn on others, we hope to have a better understanding of collective anxieties and hatreds at different periods of European history.
Week 6: Leviathan: Violence and the State
Max Weber contended that as the state modernized, and gained a monopoly on violence, interpersonal violence declined. How do we explain then that the state’s monopoly of violence also led to some of the most horrific crimes against humanity in the twentieth century both in Europe and in Europe’s colonies.