Spring 2025

Riots, Routs, and Tumult! Collective Violence in US Politics

Listed in: Political Science, as POSC-362


Jonathan M. Obert (Section 01)


Violence, as H. Rap Brown once opined, is as “American as cherry pie.” This course will explore the role, function, shape, causes, and consequences of collective violence in American politics, both past and present. On the one hand, Americans have often seen themselves as peaceable, democratic people, with a long tradition of peaceful transfers of power and an absence of widespread explicitly revolutionary violence. On the other hand, the nation itself has been the scene of some of the most profound race riots, class struggles, jurisdictional fights and sectional battles in modern world history. Tracing out the complications inherent in these two contrasting cultural interpretations of American political order, this class will examine key theoretical works and empirical moments in the violent history of the nation’s political system. It will try to explain not only how these two images can co-exist, but how the mechanisms of collective violent struggle have fundamentally shaped the nation’s governing institutions.

Admission with consent of professor. Requisite: One course in Political Science. Spring semester. Associate Professor Obert.

How to handle overenrollment: null

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: An emphasis on written work; readings.

Course Materials


2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2025