R1B - 005 | CCN: 29854

The Craft of Writing

Illegitimate Violence

Instructor: Yael Hacohen & Jerilyn Sambrooke

4 Units

Why does some violence appear legitimate while other violence appears illegitimate? In this course, we will look beyond the common distinction between legal and illegal violence, and we will investigate how violence operates and how it is made to appear. We will develop a broad critical vocabulary for thinking and writing about violence: how are some instances of violence made excessively visible and others invisible? How is violence politicized or depoliticized? What kind of actor is seen as committing the act of violence, with what kind of authority? What kinds of motives are ascribed to these actors? What kinds of threats do they pose and to whom?


Our investigation of these questions will at times be historical, theoretical, and artistic. Our main case studies will focus on gender, religion, and violence, and we will work with a variety of texts and genres. Eventually, students will craft a research project investigating an instance of violence, analyzing how it is represented in media accounts or in literary texts.


This class fulfills the second half of University of California, Berkeley’s Reading and Composition Requirement.