HIST 319A: A History of Terrorism

In the field of Political Science, there are no fewer than six subfields: American Political System, Legalism, Normative Theory, Methodology, International Relations, and Comparative Politics. This course examines one specific aspect of Comparative Politics and of International Relations—that dealing with the causes and effects of terrorist activity.
According to the official course description, this course is
A survey of terrorism in the modern world, investigating the ideology of political violence since 1789. Topics include the organization, aims, arms, financing, and composition of terrorist groups, from the 1880s in Russia to the present day worldwide. Various interpretations of the terrorist phenomenon are discussed. Assignments include advanced reading and research.
With that stated, the underlying purpose for this term’s course is to train you to be better terrorism researchers and thinkers. If you joined this class under the impression that it would be a place to sit around and condemn terrorist actions, you are in the wrong place. We are here to understand why they have done it and how to keep them from doing it in the future. I am assuming that we do want to keep it from happening. There is a very compelling moral argument that concludes terrorist activities are not immoral and do serve the common good. I may raise that argument as an intriguing counterpoint later in the term.
The field of terrorism research has grown substantially since the early 1980s, when Martha Crenshaw was forced to publish in a general-purpose journal. Today, two scholarly journals focus almost exclusively on the subject—Terrorism and Political Violence and Studies in Conflict and Terrorism. Both are published by Taylor and Francis. The annual cost is $643.00 for the former; $1171.00 for the latter. Needless to say, UMUC does not subscribe to either journal. As such, we will have to make due with available resources.

Primary Texts

The required books for this course:
  • Howard, Russell D., and Sawyer, Reid L. 2006. Terrorism and Counterterrorism. McGraw Hill.
    [ISBN: 0073527718]
  • White, Jonathan. 2005. Terrorism and Homeland Security: An Introduction, 5th edn. Wadsworth, Inc.
    [ISBN: 0534643817]
The required books are available from the bookstore. They will be used extensively in the class, so it would behoove you to get them.
Additional readings and viewings will be assigned as necessary and will be available by link on this website. Go to the ‘Course Calendar’ link for details.