Submitted by Martha M. Umphrey

Prof. MM Umphrey                                                                Office hours:

207 Clark House                                                                     Wednesday

x 8206                                                                                     1:00-3:00 and by appt.



 Law, Crime, and Culture

 LJST 34


Spring 2008


            Crime and criminality are the sites where law most directly and forcefully intervenes in everyday life through ritual and spectacle, through the construction of boundaries that include or exclude certain kinds of behavior or types of individuals from the social polity, and through direct physical violence and the containment of bodies.  Focusing mainly but not exclusively on the United States, this course will explore, both historically and theoretically, the ways in which crime and criminality have been imagined, enacted, and punished.   Drawing heavily on the work of the philosopher and cultural theoriest Michel Foucault, we will explore the historical changes, continuities and contradictions visible in various imaginings of the relationship between the state, the criminal, and the public.  We will consider the significance of shifting modes of punishment, from a spectacle of pain to the incarceration of behind the high walls of the penitentiary.  We will also examine various theories of criminality and inquire into their cultural assumptions and consequences as they have gained and lost legitimacy over time.  Who do we hold legally or morally responsible for criminal acts? Can criminal activity be explained as product of vice, or an imperfect body, or the social environment? How does popular culture encode various representations of criminality?


Course requirements:


            -three short analytic essays (25% each)

            -in-class final (25%)


Books can be purchased at Amherst Books, 8 Main Street (at the far side of the town common); multiliths are available at the LJST office, 208 Clark House (x 2380).


Required texts:


Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish

Michel Foucault, I, Pierre Riviere . . .

Frank Norris, McTeague

David Garland, The Culture of Control


Honor Code:  I maintain an honor code in all my classes.  See accompanying handout.





Power and the Production of Criminals


Foucault, Discipline and Punish, part 1

Spierenberg, from The Spectacle of Suffering

            Berman, “Rats, Pigs, and Statues on Trial”


Enlightenment Reimaginings


Beccaria, from On Crime and Punishment

Hogarth, “The Rake’s Progress,” “The Harlot’s Progress,” “Industry and Idleness”                            (images)

Rush, “An Enquiry into Public Punishment”

Foucault, Discipline and Punish, part 2


The Birth of the Penitentiary


Foucault, Discipline and Punish, part 3

Beaumont and de Tocqueville

            Foucault, Discipline and Punish , part 4, chapter 1


The Criminal as Object of Inquiry


Foucault, I, Pierre Riviere . . .

Foucault, “About the Concept of the Dangerous Individual”

            Lombroso, “Crime and Inferior Organisms”


Status and Criminal Exemption


            Waldren, from The Many Faces of Judge Lynch

Hartog, “The Right to Kill”

Without Sanctuary:  Images of Lynchings (images)


Criminal Types, Criminal Surroundings


Norris, McTeague

Buck v Bell

            Herrnstein, “Criminogenic Traits”

Shaw, from The Natural History of a Delinquent Career

Rebel Without a Cause (film screening TBA)

Foucault, Discipline and Punish, part 4




Postmodern Problematics


            Garland, The Culture of Control




Garland, “Punishment and Sensibilities”

            Simon, “Race, the War on Crime, and Mass Imprisonment”

            Conover, Newjack (excerpts)




            Schauer, from Profiles, Probabilities, and Stereotypes

            Harcourt, from Against Prediction




            Lyon, “9/11, Synopticon, and Scopophilia:  Watching and Being Watched”

            Marx, “Varieties of Personal Information as Influences on Attitudes towards                            Surveillance”

            ACLU v NSA