HUMS 287, The Theory and Practice of Resistance

Meeting Time: 
T 3:30-5:20

Course Description:

Exploration of the histories and theories of resistance in the modern world. How liberation movements, guerrillas, and oppressed groups appeal to resistance as an organizational strategy and as moral justification. Readings include Kant, Thoreau, Nietzsche, Luxemburg, Lenin, Gandhi, Fanon, Arendt, Marcuse, Foucault, A. Lorde, Said, and J. Butler. Themes include antifascism to terrorism; violence to nonviolence, the New Left to Black Lives Matter.


Led by:

Professor Terence Renaud received his Ph.D. in history from the University of California, Berkeley. Currently he is finishing his first book, New Lefts: The Making of a Radical Tradition, 1930-1970, which argues that the New Left activism that swept across Europe during the 1960s actually drew on radical precedents dating back to the interwar years. By analyzing the historical process by which “new lefts” changed into “old lefts,” the book identifies the patterns of militant behavior, non-party forms of organization, and recurrent theoretical problems that made up the phenomenon of neoleftism. Avant-garde antifascists and anti-authoritarians in Germany, France, Britain, and elsewhere represented the twentieth century’s most creative attempts to transform capitalist society and culture. His work appears in The Historical JournalModern Intellectual History, and New German Critique, and he is preparing a new research project on the subversive metaphor of “the underground.” At Yale he teaches in Directed Studies and offers seminars on the social responsibility of intellectuals, theories and practices of resistance, and modern revolutions.


  • “I would definitely recommend Resistance Theory and Practice. Professor Renaud is a gem - super good at leading discussion, gave very helpful feedback, and organized the class really well.”
  • “If you have the chance to take this class, absolutely do. One of the very rare seminars where the professor knows how to steer conversation away from seminar a**holes and performative speaking.”
  • “Take this class! Excellent syllabus and excellent teacher. You could be interested in just one or two of the modules (each week has a different theme), and find your interest greatly expanded by the connections across modules.”