Foto: Matthias Friel
Violence, its representation and consumption is omnipresent in U.S. American culture. It lies at the heart of the very foundational myths that constitute American national identity. In fact, violence has been variously described as an inherent part of the formation of nation states. Today, violence has lost most of its beneficial ascriptions and its rejection has become the epitome of civilization. Nonetheless, the spectacle of violence fascinates today as much as it did in the past (a phenomenon which perpetually startles scholars). But what really is violence? And what role do aesthetics play in the meaning and understanding of violence? A first and crucial part of this seminar will be to distinguish conceptually between the different forms of violence that we will be talking about. Starting with theories of violence, the course will attempt to trace violence as cultural performance and practices through various stages of U.S. history. Our seminar readings and discussions will focus on the different understandings and representations of violence in texts that span from the colonial era to the present and explore the politics and aesthetics of such representations.
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