Skip to main content

Vanderbilt History Seminar 2008-2009



This seminar explored the causes, forms, purposes, and effects of violence in history.  It asked how violence has shaped human environments (ecological, ideological, institutional, cultural, social and psychological) and how incidences of violence have varied across time and societies.  It probed the relationship of violence in its myriad forms to cultural, religious, racial, and gendered beliefs; to systems of labor, commerce, and technology; to politics, ideology, and the presence or absence of states with the ability to monopolize the means of violence; to the rule of law and the punishment of lawbreakers; to rebellion, war, and torture.  It investigated how societies and individuals both involved in and divorced from the immediate experience of violence responded to it and coped with its effects.  It examined representations and memories of violence in literature, film, and popular culture.  It looked into political and social movements that protested against violence. It sought to advance our understanding of the history of violence in ways that are empirical, interpretive, comparative, and theoretical.

*Because they were unpublished, VHS papers on Historical Perspectives on Violence were distributed in hardcopy form only at Vanderbilt. Please contact the authors for more information on papers. You may link to their faculty page below.

Vanderbilt History Seminar 2008–2009 participants:

Colin Dayan, Vanderbilt University
Due Process and Lethal Confinement

Dennis C. Dickerson, Vanderbilt University
Religion and the Civil Rights Movement in Transnational Perspective: The Nelsons in India, 1946–1947

Marcus Rediker, University of Pittsburgh
The Floating Dungeon: A History of the Slave Ship

Howard G. Brown, Binghamton University, SUNY
Mediatizing Massacre: ‘Collective Trauma’ in the Wars of Religion and the French Revolution

Christian Lange, University of Edinburgh
Justice, Punishment, and the Medieval Muslim Imagination

Richard J. M. Blackett, Vanderbilt University
Dispossessing Massa: Fugitive Slaves and the Politics of Slavery After 1850

Greg Grandin, New York University
Living in Revolutionary Time: Coming to Terms with the Violence of Latin America’s Long Cold War

Kevin Boyle, Ohio State University
The Splendid Dead: An American Ordeal

Laura Engelstein, Yale University
"A Belgium of Our Own" – The Sack of Russian Kalisz, August 1914

Joel F. Harrington, Vanderbilt University
Dead Babies, Bad Mothers, and Diabolical Influences: The emergence and divergence of the early modern campaigns against infanticide and witchcraft

Caroline Elkins, Harvard University
British Colonial Violence and the End of Empire

Tessa Morris-Suzuki, Australian National University
Letters to the Dead: Addressing the Legacies of Violence in Japan's Borderlands

Peter Silver, Rutgers University
Going to War with Natives in British and Spanish America, 1702–1743

Samantha Power, Harvard University
Human Rights and Globalization

Emma Christopher, University of Sydney
"An Unfortunate Wretch Hurried into Eternity": The Shadow of Slavery and Convict Control in West Africa and Australia, 1780-1840