Gun Violence and its Histories

In the spring of 2018, a group of Pitt scholars gathered together to ask a question: What do early modernists have to say about gun violence? 

Posing this question developed into an active research collective composed of faculty and students. We aim to leverage the tools we have as scholars working primarily in the historical humanities to participate in ongoing discussions around guns, gun culture, and gun violence. Societal responses to guns and gun violence change over time and in response to the fluctuation of local, national, and global forces. Excavating and exposing the historicity of those trajectories is important. Not only does it highlight the potentialities that are embedded in our own historicity. Our work gives new perspectives on the role of guns in our current moment.

With the support of the Medieval and Renaissance Studies Program and the Early Modern Worlds Initiative, the group organizes a series of public programs and collaborative workshops.

Upcoming Events:


September 16, 2019: Prof. David Silverman, George Washington University

Prof. Silverman will offer a talk on Thundersticks: Firearms and the Violent Transformation of Native America. The talk takes place in the History Department Lounge (3703 Posvar Hall), 4:30pm-6:00 p.m. 

October 4, 2019: Early Modern Gun Violence Research Workshop in the Humanities Center, CL 601

Our goal with this teaching workshop is to identify teaching materials and to create activities that can be shared and used in a variety of humanities undergraduate courses. Our subject, broadly speaking, is histories and representations of guns, gun cultures, and gun violence in the early modern world. Our emphasis is on flexibility and scalability: creating activities that can be scaled up or down and that draw upon materials that are multilingual, linguistically accessible, multimedia, cross-century, and interdisciplinary.

March 27, 2020, Workshop in the Humanities Center, CL 601

The goal of this workshop is to prepare for a pop-up course on Gun Violence and its Histories for the academic year 2020/2021.

These events have been generously supported by the Dietrich School Faculty Research and Scholarship Program. 

Past Events:

On February 21, 2019, Prof. Juliette Cherbuliez, University of Minnesota gave a talk entitled "In the Wake of Médée: Literature and the Arts of Destruction". 

Prof. Cherbuliez also hosted a workshop in Frick Fine Arts Library entitled "Strange Fruit: Regarding Callot's Violence in the Misères et malheurs de la guerre (1633)” in which faculty and students discussed the Callot series Misères et malheurs de la guerre and other prints.


On September 18, 2018, Professor Priya Satia, Stanford University, came to share her research and to discuss her book with an interdisciplinary group of faculty and students. Among the important themes that the group explored with Prof. Satia was gun violence and gun manufacturing as a systemic issue. 


For more information, please contact Chloé Hogg (, Jennifer Waldron (, Chris Nygren (, and Pernille Røge (