POSC 60 - Syllabus with links to e-reserves for Punishment, Politics and Culture

Submitted by Theresa A. Laizer on Tuesday, 1/4/2011, at 3:33 PM

PUNISHMENT, POLITICS AND CULTURE

Spring, 2011

Austin Sarat
413-542-2308
adsarat@amherst.edu

Office Hours
    
Tuesday 2:00PM-3:30PM and Thursday 2:00PM-3:30PM
    
Other than war, punishment is the most dramatic manifestation of state power. Whom a society punishes and how it punishes are key political questions as well as indicators of its character. This course considers connections between punishment and politics in the contemporary United States. We will ask whether we punish too much and too severely, or too little and too leniently. We will consider the politicization and racialization punishment and examine particular modalities through which the state dispenses its penal power. Among the questions to be discussed are: Does punishment express our noblest aspirations for justice or our basest desires for vengeance? Can it ever be an adequate expression of, or response to, the pain of the victims of crime? When is it appropriate to forgive rather than punish? Throughout we will try to understand the meaning of punishment by examining the way it is represented in politics and popular culture.

Books for the course are available at the Amherst Bookstore.

    Stephen Mitchell, The Book of Job
    James Whitman, Harsh Justice
    Herman Melville, Billy Budd
    Fox Butterfield, All God’s Children
    Austin Sarat, When the State Kills: Capital Punishment and the American Condition
    Austin Sarat, Mercy on Trial: What It Means to Stop an Execution


Other readings are available on the course website on CMS.

Please note that there are several films streaming on e-reserve.

I. INTRODUCTION: PUNISHMENT AND PAIN

FILM-Pierrepoint, The Last Hangman

1.    Introduction (January 26)

FILM: Noon Wine

2.    The Phenomonology of Suffering: If There Is Punishment There Must Be Guilt, But Without Punishment Can There Be Innocence? (February 2)

3.    Punishment and the Constitution of Culture (February 9)

II. PUTTING PAIN TO WORK

4.     What Makes Pain Punitive? And What Does Punishment Say About Those Who Punish?- I (February 16)

5.    What Makes Pain Punitive? And What Does Punishment Say About Those Who Punish?- II (February 23)   

III. THE PAINS OF PUNISHMENT

FILM:  Sling Blade

6.    Imprisonment and Indignity-I (March 2)   

FILM: Shawshank Redemption

7.     Imprisonment and Indignity-II (March 9)

8.    The Violence of Imprisonment: Is the State of Nature Inside Law? (March 23)

IV. COMPETING IMPULSES: SEVERITY AND ITS LIMITS

FILM:  I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang

9.     Mandatory Sentences, Chain Gangs, and Solitary Confinement and The American Way of Punishment (March 30)       

10.    ”Three Strikes And You Are Out,” Extending the Sphere of Control and The American Way of Punishment (April 6)       

FILM-Pierrepoint, The Last Hangman     

11.     Execution Politics: America and the Future of Capital Punishment-I (April 13)

William Connolly, “The Will, Capital Punishment, and Culture War”
Austin Sarat, When the State Kills: Capital Punishment and the American Condition (P)

FILM: Dead Man Walking

12. Execution Politics: America and the Future of Capital Punishment -II (April 20)

V. BEYOND PAIN?

13.     Beyond Severity: New Attitudes Toward Punishment (April 27)

14.     Conclusion (May 4)

POSC 60_2011 SYLLABUS

Submitted by Theresa A. Laizer on Tuesday, 1/4/2011, at 3:11 PM
 

Taking Notes