This course explores war, revolution and organized crime as interrelated social phenomena. Students will read sociologists, historians, political scientists and philosophers addressing the nature, causes and consequences of these phenomena in different national and historical contexts. The course will combine influential theoretical frameworks (by Karl Marx, Max Weber, Sigmund Freud, Hannah Arendt), middle-range social scientific approaches (by Charles Tilly, Michael Mann, Theda Skocpol), and empirical and historical analyses (by Eric Hobsbawm, Benedict Anderson, James C. Scott, Eugen Weber). The three phenomena will further be scrutinized through their (mis)representation in movies by Mike Nichols, Milos Forman, Bernardo Bertolucci and others.
The course is divided into three parts according to the major themes: (1) war; (2) organized crime; and (3) revolution. Each week’s readings will be accompanied by two films intended to visualize the topics at hand (students will be required to watch one, of their choosing). Throughout the semester, students will develop an increased awareness of the inter-connectedness of the three themes, as well as their cinematic renderings. Through discussions, weekly email responses and two independent research papers, students will become aware of the veracity and limitations of portrayals of wars, revolutions and gangsters in film.