Introduction to Humanities: Politics, Violence and Resistance
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“Violence is the midwife of history.” – Friedrich Engels
In all political matters, there is a fight between those who strive to retain control and those who strive to evade it or rise up against it.
The objective of this intensive course is to briskly introduce students to some of the most elegant and sophisticated texts ever written on the topic of violence and resistance. We will start with definitions of the political by Arendt, Hobbes and Schmitt, all of which pivot on a particular relationship to violence. The second part of the course will revisit the problem of political power through the nexus of obedience and disobedience, with La Boétie, Kant and Thoreau. The course will end by examining Nietzsche’s and Baldwin’s accounts of morality. Along the way, students will have an opportunity to learn about key methodological skills such as how to structure an argument, how to avoid or spot fallacies and how to edit an essay in order to improve it. Overall, students will develop confidence in reading difficult texts, which will be useful to them throughout their careers as students of the humanities.
Vincent Millou is a PhD candidate in political theory at Sciences Po. He has been driven by a mounting frustration with mainstream theories of dissent ever since his first research on the struggle of Notre-Dame-des-Landes in Brittany. His dissertation focuses on the relationship between nonviolent protest and democratic government in France. This research aims at better understanding how dissent can be not only repressed, but also sanitized.
Vincent taught an introduction to the humanities at Sciences Po as well as an introduction to political science at Paris-Sorbonne. He was also a teaching assistant for a course on the epistemology of political science. This year he is an academic visitor at the Department of Politics and International Relations at Oxford University.