One of the defining features of the twentieth century was the repeated use of genocide and other forms of one-sided mass violence by states against internal and external civilian populations.  In this seminar, we will explore these phenomena from a theoretical and historical point of view, with particular attention to the Armenian genocide, the Holocaust, the democides that have taken place under Communist regimes (e.g., Stalin’s USSR, Mao’s China, Pol Pot’s Cambodia), and more recent experiences of one-sided mass killing in Africa.  While the experience of victims will be of central concern, we will also examine the experience and motivations of perpetrators, the explicit and implicit goals of the terrorizing/genocidal state, the response -- or lack of response -- by members of the international community, and the ethical dilemmas posed by one-sided mass violence.  Requirements include readings of 200 to 300 pages per week, active participation in class discussions, two five-page book reviews, and a fifteen-page historiographical essay.  This course meets the Second Writing Requirement.
Likely readings for the course include portions of the following books:  Ben Kiernan, Blood and Soil: A World History of Genocide and Extermination; Eric Weitz, A Century of Genocide: Utopias of Race and Nation; Benjamin Valentino, Final Solutions: Mass Killing and Genocide in the Twentieth Century; Christian Gerlach, Extremely Violent Societies: Mass Violence in the Twentieth Century; Taner Akcam, The Young Turks Crime Against Humanity: The Armenian Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing in the Ottoman Empire; Doris Bergen, War and Genocide: A Concise History of the Holocaust (2nd ed.); Timothy Snyder, Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin; Norman Naimark, Stalin's Genocides; Frank Dikotter, Mao's Great Famine: The History of China's Most Devastating Catastrophe; Alexander Hinton, Why Did They Kill?  Cambodia in the Shadow of Genocide; Scott Straus, The Order of Genocide: Race, Power, and War in Rwanda; James Waller, Becoming Evil: How Ordinary People Commit Genocide and Mass Killing (2nd ed.); Kristen Renwick Monroe, Ethics in an Age of Terror and Genocide.

Corcoran Department of History
University of Virginia
Nau Hall - South Lawn
Charlottesville, VA 22904


(434) 924-7147
(434) 924-7891
M-F 8am to 4:30pm
Department Contacts