Criminal Justice-COAS | Crime, Punishemnt & visual Culture
P493 | 9522 | Brown


Crime and Punishment in Visual Culture

In contemporary American visual culture, images of crime and
punishment have been transformed in a number of significant ways.  We
have witnessed the birth of the serial killer thriller, the rise of
realist indie films with their deeply pessimistic sense of justice,
the suffusion of television drama and documentary with detective and
forensic programming, and many other trends.  In this course, we will
ask ourselves not only why these trends are occurring but why we
should examine this highly visual culture and its images in
relationship to crime and punishment at all.  What purpose does this
serve?  How do examinations of media and popular culture help us
better understand crime or punishment and the relationship between
the two?  We will identify the dominant ways in which crime and
punishment are portrayed and then we will explore the nature of these
images, including their cultural meanings and functions as well as
their historical antecedents.  We will survey a broad variety of
media forms, including Hollywood film, independent cinema, social
documentary, television, cyberspace, architecture, photography,
painting, museum exhibitions, and other art forms.  Every week we
will engage in analytical exercises designed to make us better
readers of the ways in which crime and its counterpart punishment are
envisioned in society.  In the past, films have included Fritz Lang’s
M, The Silence of the Lambs, The Matrix, Traffic, Aileen Wuornos: The
Selling of a Serial Killer as well as prison tours, visits to class
by former inmates, and access to various kinds of art exhibitions.
If you are interested in the role of media, the imagination, pop
culture, or art in criminal justice, this class is for you.

Grading Distribution and Course Requirements:

All films and readings listed on the syllabus are required.  I have
arranged a free screening for all films on _________ evenings.
Otherwise all of these films may be viewed at media reserve in the
Main Library or rented at local video outlets.  Each week you will be
required to respond to course readings and various forms of media
through a brief writing exercise.  This accounts for one quarter of
your grade.  The midterm exam will be administered in class.  The
final exam will be written outside of class.  Please note that
failure to attend class can result in an F in the course in keeping
with university policy.

Weekly Attendance and Participation	15%
Weekly Writing Exercises		25%
Midterm Exam				30%
Final Exam				30%

Required Texts:

Course Packet

Class meeting:  R, 5:45 - 8:15P, SY 212

Instructor:  Michelle Brown, criminal justice department