History 101.004

Fall 2005
Instructor (text): 
104 Dwinelle
Day & Time: 
TuTh 11-12:30
Description now available!

This research seminar explores the social, political, and cultural history of crime, criminal law, policing, and punishment in the United States, from 1609 to the present, and guides students through the process of writing a senior thesis in the field. In the first few weeks, we will orient ourselves in the crime and punishment historiography, chiefly by reading and discussing some of its most innovative scholarship. We will consider certain key themes, including the historical transformation of the legal and cultural meanings of crime and criminality between the colonial and modern periods; the cultural and political significance of certain "infamous" crimes and trials; the invention of delinquency; and African American experiences of criminal justice, in both the North and the South, during the Jim Crow era. In the course of this orientation, we will also consider the various sources and interpretive methods available to the student of crime and punishment history.

The remainder of the semester (approximately ten weeks) will be devoted to the tasks of framing, researching, and writing a research paper of approximately 30 to 40 pages in length. Students may choose to work in one of the areas discussed in the orientation, or may develop their own topic in consultation with the instructor. We will break intermittently in order to conduct research and writing. When we convene, class will be run as a workshop: students will present their work, and read and discuss the work of fellow students. During the weeks in which class does not meet, each student must meet one-on-one with the instructor (during the allotted class time). Writing requirements for the seminar include: one project prospectus (3-5 pages); one rough draft (20 or more pages); one complete draft (30-40 pages); and the final paper (30-40 pages). Other requirements include: attendance at all class meetings, including library seminar; reading and discussing fellow students' papers; and weekly one-on-one meetings with the instructor when class is not in session.