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Unit information: Theorizing Violence: Colonial Encounters and Anticolonial Reactions in 2021/22

Unit name Theorizing Violence: Colonial Encounters and Anticolonial Reactions
Unit code MODLM0025
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Ruth Bush
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Modern Languages
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

This course examines theoretical and empirical critiques of violence across several cultural and geographic contexts, and from a wide range of disciplines, including literary studies, history, philosophy, and political theory.

We will engage classic European texts on the philosophy of violence as well as reactions to colonial violence across the colonized world. We will also revisit political theories of violence in order to examine their relevance to understanding violence in the modern and contemporary periods. Comparing the experience of violence across a wide variety of colonial and colonizing contexts, this course tests the limits of the modern state’s monopoly on violence, while suggesting how literature and cultural artefacts generate resistance to state coercion.

Students will be encouraged to reflect critically on the range of texts pertaining to the history and theory of violence, while also engaging in cross-cultural comparison and practicing interdisciplinary methodologies. The comparative and interdisciplinary approach of this course will train students in the methodologies most relevant to the MA in Comparative Cultures in the School of Modern Languages, but the course content will be of relevance to students in other MA programmes.

Intended Learning Outcomes

1) Students will develop scholarly perspectives on a wide range of reflections on violence and will become able to situate these works within a broader intellectual tradition

2) Students will develop a sophisticated cross-cultural understanding of violence and of global imperial history from multiples points of view

3) Students will develop the ability to apply key insights from critical theory to the contemporary moment

4) Students will refine their abilities in comparative textual analysis

5) Students will acquire a sophisticated understanding of global intellectual history and political theory

6) Students will develop the tools to conduct further research into the theory of violence across world cultures

Teaching Information

Teaching will be delivered online through a combination of synchronous sessions and asynchronous activities, including seminars, lectures, and collaborative as well as self-directed learning opportunities supported by tutor consultation.

Assessment Information

3,000 word coursework essay (60%), testing ILOs 1-6

One 2,000 word commentary assignment involving discussion of two or more course readings (40%), testing ILOs 1-6.


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How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.