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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : History

Undergraduate Course: Global Histories of Terrorism: Perspectives and Case-Studies in the Modern Era (HIST10387)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course offers a comparative case-study approach to the history of modern terrorism and political violence. Each seminar will explore the challenges and problems associated with conceptualizing terrorism through focusing on primary sources concerning key moments in the development of political violence in a variety of historical contexts.
Course description The course explores both state and insurrectionary terrorism, beginning with the French Revolution, then moving to the anarchist and nihilist movements of the nineteenth century, state terrorism in the twentieth century, anti-colonial violence after WWII, white-supremacist terrorism in the United States and the new left terrorism of the 1970s. The key readings include primary materials such as Nechaev's revolutionary catechism and classic writings on terrorism by Robespierre, Trotsky and Arendt. Throughout the course, we will discuss both historical and social science approaches to the topic of terrorism, its political uses, and reflect on how it has been represented in media and literature. In doing so, students will investigate a topic which holds vital significance in today's society.

Week 1. Introduction: What is terrorism? (with Dr Mathias Thaler)

Week 2. The Terror and the French Revolution.

Week 3: Russian Revolutionary Violence and Nechaev's Catechism of a Revolutionary.

Week 4. Propaganda of the Deed: political violence and transnational anarchism, 1890-1920.

Week 5. Revolutionary terrorism and Trotskys Terrorism and Communism

Week 6. The Ku-Klux Klan and white supremacist terrorism in the American south.

Week 7. State terrorism in mid-twentieth century Europe.

Week 8. Anti-colonial Violence in the Aftermath of World War Two: Frantz Fanons The Wretched of the Earth (with Mathias Thaler).

Week 9. New Left Terrorism: Baader Meinhof and the Red Brigades.

Week 10. 'The Troubles' in Northern Ireland.

Week 11. Conclusion: types of terrorism in the contemporary world.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements A pass or passes in 40 credits of first level historical courses or equivalent and a pass or passes in 40 credits of second level historical courses or equivalent.
Before enrolling students on this course, Personal Tutors are asked to contact the History Honours Admission Administrator to ensure that a place is available (Tel: 503780).
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting Students should usually have at least 3 History courses at grade B or above (or be predicted to obtain this) for entry to this course. We will only consider University/College level courses.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. demonstrate critical understanding of historical debates concerning the development of terrorism in the modern era, and a detailed understanding of the problems associated with conceptualising terrorism;
  2. demonstrate, by way of coursework as required, an ability to read, analyze and reflect critically upon relevant scholarship
  3. analyse, contextualise and evaluate primary source material relating to the development of terrorism;
  4. arrive at independent, well-argued, well-documented and properly referenced conclusions in their coursework as required;
  5. demonstrate independence of mind and initiative; intellectual integrity and maturity; an ability to evaluate the work of others, including peers
Reading List
Hannah Arendt, On Violence (1970).
Donald Bloxham and Robert Gerwarth (eds.), Political Violence in Twentieth Century Europe (2011).
Martha Crenshaw (ed.), Terrorism in Context (1995).
Mike Davis, Buda's Wagon: A Brief History of the Car Bomb (2008).
Franz Fanon, On Violence, The Wretched of the Earth, (1961), pp. 1-62.
Ruth Kinna (ed.), Early Writings on Terrorism (2006), Vol. 1.
Walter Laqueur, Voices of Terror (2004).
Randall Law, Terrorism: A History (2009).
Martin A. Miller, The Foundations of Modern Terrorism (2012)
Wolfgang J Mommsen (ed.), Social Protest, Violence and Terror in Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Europe (1982).
Robespierre, On the Principles of Political Morality that Should Guide the National Convention in the Domestic Administration of the Republic. in Zizek presents Robespierre: Virtue and Terror (2007).
Leon Trotsky, The Defence of Terrorism: a Reply to Karl Kautsky (1921).
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills The transferable skills gained from this course include:
1 Developing the students ability to organize and lead discussions through seminar presentations and discussions on selected weeks
2 Developing the ability to express complex arguments through giving oral presentations on selected weeks
3 Developing a command of bibliographical and library- and/or IT-based online and offline research skills
4 Developing the ability to marshal arguments lucidly, coherently and concisely, both orally and in writing
Course organiserDr Niall Whelehan
Course secretaryMrs Diane Knowles
Tel: (0131 6)50 3781
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