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PS399 - Dissent, Protest, and Rebellion: Writings of Opposition

Professor Henderson
Gilkey Hall 312
Office hours:
Phone: 737-6236

Course Overview

Who wrote the ideas that inspired some of the most influential revolts and rebellions of the twentieth century? What inspired them to devote their lives to protest? In this class, we will be reading the personal writings of some of the most prominent dissidents of the twentieth century. Their goals, methods to achieve those goals, and vision of an ideal society differed dramatically, yet they all in their own way irrevocably changed history, either during their life time or afterwards as the legacy of their thought lived on.

This colloquium will familiarize you with some of the twentieth centurys most controversial and significant protest literature. It will also introduce you to the concepts and ideas that formed the basis for movements of protest. By the end of the course, you should have a grasp of the differing theories of liberation that have inspired some of this centurys most tumultuous events. In this class, we will focus on the ideologies that protestors have devised to justify their actions. Thus, the class is divided into three categories of protest: nonviolence, violence, and memory.

Required Readings

All reading in this class is mandatory. You may purchase the following books at the OSU Bookstore.

  • Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth (Grove Press, 1986).
  • Louis Fischer, ed. The Essential Gandhi (New York: Vintage Press, 1983).
  • Evgeniia Ginzburg, Journey into the Whirlwind (Harvest Books, 2002).

You will also be responsible for a selection of articles, all of which are on reserve at the library, and some of which are available in electronic format through Blackboard (depending on availability).


Thought papers 80%
Participation 15%

In a class this size, its important that we work together as a group. Each one of you is critical and valued participant in each one of our weekly sessions. That means that we all need to attend all the class sessions, first of all, and then participate in them. Some students are more voluble than others; however, its important that you all find ways to contribute the class discussion. For one, when you dont talk, you are making other students carry the burden of making class discussion a rich and interesting experience. Thats unfair. But you also deprive the class of enriching and diversifying the exchange of views and attitudes in the classroom, which means that the entire class suffers. The fewer the participants, the less chance that a variety of ideas will be introduced, and as a result, ideas are left unsaid, unexplored, and most importantly, unshared. If you arent normally a vocal student, please come talk to me.

Diss(id)ent Demonstration 5%

Protest can be expressed in many different ways. We are choosing one of the most common forms of protest the written word. However, this also overlooks a vast array of forms of expression, ranging from music, to drama, to art work. You are responsible for bringing an alternative form of protest expression to class to share with your colleagues. It may be a song, a work of art, or footage from a film, play, or TV newscast, for example. You should be able to introduce your piece of protest, explain the context which prompted the work, and then discuss its impact (if any) on society.

Class schedule
  • January 7 Introduction
  • Part I: Nonviolent dissent
    • January 14
      • Mohandas Gandhi
    • January 21
      • Mohandas Gandhi
    • January 28
      • MLK
  • Part II: The justification for violence<
    • February 4
      • Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth
    • Februrary 11
      • Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth
    • February 18
      • Black nationalism and the Student movement
  • Part III: Recording the past: Protest as memorial and memoire
    • Februrary 25
      • Evgenia Ginzberg, Descent into the Whirlwind
    • March 3
      • Evgenia Ginzberg, Descent into the Whirlwind
    • March 10
      • TBA