Studies in Crime and Social Justice

Course Objectives


The goals of this seminar are three-fold:

  1. to provide a critical sociological analysis of the major ways in which western society has historically conceptualized, methodologically investigated, and practically attempted to control crime, criminals, and the criminal law
  2. to situate the contemporary study of crime within a "power-reflexive" analytic framework, attentive to the simulataneous operation of race, class, and gender as constitutive features of hierarchical social power

  3. encourage the development of in-depth student analyses of selected topics in criminological research.

    Course Agenda And Assigned Readings


    1. Jan. 19   Introduction.

    2. Jan. 26   Torturing Criminals: Constructing (Modern Men's) Laws.

    3. Feb. 2   Punishing Criminals: Hiding Whitened Guilt.

    4. Feb. 9   Classical Criminological Theory: Rationalizing Injustice.

    5. Feb. 16 Disciplining Criminals: Surveillance and Subjectivity.

    6. Feb. 23   Ghosts of Crimes Passed: a Her/story of the Present.

    7. Mar. 2 Racialized Gaps in Criminological Knowledge.

    B.C. Winter Break

    8. Mar. 16   Demonizing the Lawfully Excluded: Crime as Sin.

    9. Mar. 23 Sick Criminals or a Sickened Society?

    10. Mar. 30   Crime as Disorganizational or Functionalist Feedback.

    11. April 6   Crime as Structurally Induced and/or Learned.

    No Class April 13 (B.C. Easter Break)

    12. April 20   Reactions to Crime: Constructions of Power.

    13. April 27   Critical Responses to Crime and the Criminal Justice.

    Supplemental Reading (nonrequired).

    As a background resource for seminar discussion and student research, copies of Piers Beirne and James Messerschmidt's text, Criminology, 2/e (Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich College Publishers, 1995) have been ordered for the B.C. Bookstore. While not required, this text offers an excellent introduction to sociological problems pertaining to the critical study of crime and social justice.

    Course Requirements:

     1. Active participation. This is an intensive reading seminar. All participants are expected to actively contribute to seminar discussion and dialogue and to spend at least 6 hours per week reading and preparing course materials. All participants are also expected to periodically assume responsibility (in two person teams) for leading discussion of assigned readings.

     2. Topical Seminar Presentations. Each participant is to make one (15-20 minute) in-class presenation relating course materials to a topic of criminological concern that she or he has selected for investigation. Topical seminar presentations will begin on March 16th. (See #3 regarding topical foci of Analytic Essays).

     3. Two Analytic Essays. Each participant is expected to produce two 10-12 page "analytic essays." These short papers must make explicit use of assigned class materials in addressing issues pertinent to the sociology of crime, criminals and/or criminal justice. The first essay is due on March 23rd. The 2nd essay is due no later than 5:00 pm., May 11th. Materials pertaining to either paper may constitute the subject of a student's "topical seminar presentation" (See #2 above). Each analytic essay will constitute 50% of a student's course grade.

    A suggestion: a possibility.
    One of your two required essays may be a critical sociological response to and/or review of what you take to be important themes or lessons drawn from a study of any of the following texts, as these texts relate to issues raised by assigned course materials and seminar discussions.

    Piers Beirne and James Messerschmidt, Criminology, 2nd Ed., Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich College Publishers, 1995.

    Dee Brown, (Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich College Publishers, 1995), New York: Washington Square Press, 1981.

    Malcolm X, The Autobiography of Malcolm X, with the assistance of Alex Haley, Grove Press, 1964.

    Kathleen Daly, Gender, Crime and Punishment,

    James Messerschmidt, Masculinities and Crime: Critique and Reconceptualization of Theory, Lanham, Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 1993.

    Raymond Michalowski, Order, Law and Crime, New York: Random House, 1985.

    James Miller, The Passion of Michel Foucault, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1993.