History | Crime & Punishment in U.S. History
A300 | 3083 | Cafer/Kraus
A portion of the above section reserved for majors
Above section open to undergraduates only
Throughout America’s history, disputes about crime and punishment
have been as bizarre, gripping and consequential as they are now.
Historical debates about power, morality and justice gradually
shaped the criminal justice system we have today, but the way
Americans view crime and punishment has changed dramatically since
the seventeenth century—and often in surprising ways. This course
highlights the diverse ways Americans have defined and responded to
criminal behavior through events ranging from the Salem witchcraft
trials to the Oklahoma City bombing. Concepts of crime and
punishment in the criminal justice system, in popular entertainment
and in everyday life were transformed as society and culture
changed. We will explore how forms of crime and punishment—from
mobsters and drug wars to executions and lynchings—reflect and shape
the structure of American society.
This course will be a combination of discussion and lecture.
Students will be asked to complete weekly reading assignments;
participate actively in class; occasionally attend evening viewings
of films and television shows; and complete a 10-12 page research
paper and shorter writing assignments.