The History and Culture of War and Violence

Please note: this is archived course information from 2023 for EUROPEAN 212.


While homicide rates have consistently fallen since the seventeenth century, wars in modern times have become increasingly destructive and murderous. With examples primarily from nineteenth and twentieth century Europe, this course examines how modern technologies and bureaucracies have exacerbated violence and changed the nature of brutality in wartime.

The course is structured around four main themes: war and technology; war and society; war and ideology; the regulation and conduct of war. Topics range from the changing role of women as victims and perpetrators of violence to the assassination of suspected terrorists by drone strikes. 

A series of questions will be examined: How have enemies been dehumanised to make killing easier? Did the growth of bureaucracy make warfare more impersonal and facilitate the Holocaust? How did modern weaponry blur the distinction between the "home front" and the "battle front"? How has ideology promoted warfare? Is the term "culture of violence" relegated to the past – or currently valid? Is the excessive use of violence in wartime due to arbitrary actions by individuals – or promoted by the state?

Availability 2023

Not taught in 2023




2x 1,500-word essay (30% each) and a 2-hour exam (40%)


EUROPEAN 212: 15 points


30 points at Stage I in BA or BGlobalSt courses