American Nonviolence

Fall 2000

Marist College

Dr. Greg Moses

Please consider the following links:

Course Description: American

In this course we will survey the history of nonviolence thought and action in America from the Iroquois history of Dekanahwideh to the poetry of Simon Ortiz, then we will test theoretical applications to contemporary challenges such as racism and the garrison state. In April we will work on collaborative research projects with students who are networked via the online Partners project.

Required Texts (in order of use):

  • Fenton, William N., ed. Parker on the Iroquois. Syracuse: Syracuse UP, 1968.
  • Lynd, Staughton and Alice, eds. Nonviolence in America. Maryknoll: Orbis, 1995.
  • Mauer, Marc. Race to Incarcerate. NY: New Press, 1999.

Assignments and Grades: The final grade will be based on the following components, each equally weighed.

  • Preparation and participation
  • Mid-term exercise constructing a model of nonviolence from historical sources (10 pages)
  • Interim report on application of a nonviolence model to the prison boom (6 pages)
  • Final report with Partners collaborators via internet (TBA)


By the end of the course, students should be able to (1) demonstrate familiarity with the history of a nonviolence tradition in America, (2) articulate a working model of nonviolence as a systematic, general approach to social challenges, and (3) develop theoretical proposals for applying nonviolence methodology to specific social challenges. Thus, mid-term research reports will assess student familiarity with historical contributions to a general model of nonviolence. A short exercise after mid-terms will assess students' abilities to apply theoretical findings against the challenge of a booming prison population. With these competencies in place, students will be asked to join in nonviolence research projects with internet collaborators.

Attendance Policy:

Excused absences should be documented within two weeks. More than two unexcused absences will result in the deduction of a full letter from the final grade. After more than four unexcused absences, the instructor reserves the right to issues a failing grade for the course.

Schedule of inquiry:

Jan. 21--Introduction:

Nonviolence and the Eleventh Thesis. Surveying student interests and objectives. A brief tour of terms: theory, model, propositions, sentences, population.

Jan. 25--Parker on the Iroquois:

Dekanahwideh and the Iroquois Federation
  • Read: Parker, Book Three, pp. 7-64.
  • Prepare: Two paragraphs, typed. (1) Summarize the main outline of presentation. (2) Identify sentences that would begin to populate a model of nonviolence. Please make appropriate quotes and citations.
  • Workshops &
  • Forum: Learning from the Iroquois model of peace.
  • For next time: Groups divide 8 readings from Parts I-III (everyone reads Thoreau).

    Jan. 28-- Lynd, Parts I-III

    (except Thoreau)

  • Read: Selected text & Thoreau
  • Prepare: Two paragraphs: (1) Summarizing the main outline of your text (2) Quoting and commenting on what you think is the most important contribution toward a theory of nonviolence.
  • Workshops: Sharing reports and assessments.
  • Forum: Do you think faith is necessary for peace?

    Feb. 1-- Thoreau

  • Read: Lynd, pp. 21-37.
  • Prepare: Instead of sentences, this time let's look for arguments and conclusions. Two paragraphs: (1) Cite an argument that leads to a conclusion. (2) Does the argument work for you?
  • Workshops: Thoreau's arguments.
  • Forum: Going back over some of our favorite sentences so far, could we support them with arguments? Which sentences stand as more basic?

    Feb. 4-- William James

  • Read: Lynd, pp. 65-74.
  • Prepare: (1) Citation of argument. (2) Assessment.
  • Workshops: James' arguments.
  • Forum: How can peace be the moral equivalent of war?
  • For next time: Divide readings 11-15 (note that 15 falls into three parts).
  • Logging into Partners: a reminder

    Feb. 8-- From Darrow to Kohn.

  • Read: Selected text.
  • Prepare: (1) Summary of main arguments. (2) Assessment.
  • Workshops: On dissenting arguments.
  • Forum: On prisons and power in the 20th Century (with nods to Thoreau & James).
  • For next time: Divide readings on Trade Unionism, Parts VI & XII

    Feb. 11-- Trade Unionism

  • Read: Selected text.
  • Prepare: Arguments and assessments.
  • Workshops: On labor.
  • Forum: A nonviolent model for labor?
  • For next time: Divide Parts VII & VIII.

    Feb. 15-- From passive resistance to direct action

  • Read: Selected text.
  • Prepare: Arguments and assessments.
  • Workshops: Against war.
  • For next time: Divide non-King texts in Part IX
  • Forum: Passive resistance and direct action: what changes take place between these models?

    Feb. 18-- Direct action for Civil Rights

  • Read: Non-King texts.
  • Prepare: Arguments and assessments.
  • Workshops: For civil rights.
  • Forum: Direct action applied to civil rights.
  • For next time: Divide King Chapters, Montgomery and Birmingham

    Feb. 22-- King's English

  • Read: King texts.
  • Prepare: Arguments and assessments.
  • Workshops: King's philosophy.
  • Forum: From pilgrim to strategist. How do King's early principles become models for strategic action?

    Mid-term assignment (10 pages) Due Mar. 3:

    Constructing a model of nonviolence from historical sources. What would count for six key sentences? Do you find historical precedents? How would you argue for the truth of each? Have others argued for such truths? How do the sentences fit together logically? How does it compare to other models? Why do you think your model would work? For the following sections, please continue to divide and report readings, but no typed prep is due.

    Feb. 25-- Vietnam

    Feb. 29-- Catholicism

    Mar. 3-- Anti-Imperialism

  • Mid-term Workshops: assignments due

    Mar. 7-- Gulf War

  • Update on Partners: a reminder

    Mar. 10--Global Wounds

    Spring Break

    Mar. 21--Mauer, Chs. 1-3

    Mar. 24--Mauer, Chs. 4-6

    Mar. 28--Mauer, Chs. 7-9

    Mar. 31--Mauer, Chs. 10-12

    Apr. 4--Interim Report Due (6 pages):

    How does your model stand up to the problem of incarceration? Summarize what you take to be a key issue, using Mauer or other sources. Can it be addressed theoretically with your nonviolent model? What adjustments would be made? Do you have a suggestion for strategic action?

    Apr. 7--

    Here we begin the Partners projects with our internet collaborators.

    Apr. 11--TBA

    Apr. 14--TBA

    Apr. 18--TBA

    Easter Break

    Apr. 25--TBA

    Apr. 28--TBA

    May 2--TBA

    May 5--TBA

    Final report due May 12

    Contact Information

    Telephone extension: 2217.

    Email: JZ7R@maristb.marist.edu

    Office: cubicle in Humanities temporary offices, ground floor of Student Center (SC 149)

    Office hours: TBA.

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