Spring 2022

After <em>COPS</em>: Police, Media, and Prison Abolition

Listed in: English, as ENGL-378  |  Film and Media Studies, as FAMS-382


Pooja G. Rangan (Section 01)


(Offered as ENGL 378 and FAMS 382)

Calls to defund the police may have helped to cancel the notorious reality program COPS, but crime scenes, courtrooms, cops, lawyers, victims, and vigilantes dominate our media and our imaginations. This course asks what needs to be abolished—not just canceled—in our media environment in order for us to imagine a world without prisons. Abolition is, at its core, a transformative project that aims to change the very social relations, conditions, and logics that produce the harms for which police and prisons seem to serve as solutions. A project that once took on the seemingly impossible challenge of ending slavery, abolition has become a movement of interlinked struggles against systemic oppression. We will examine a range of media, historical and contemporary, cinematic and televisual, fictional and documentary, global and local, through the lens of abolition, deconstructing carceral scenarios and affects, and discovering and imagining transformative approaches to narrative, healing, and justice. Students enrolling in this course should be prepared to take on a range of activities including and beyond weekly readings, film/media viewing, and analytical writing, such as independent and collaborative research, site-based field work (if public health guidelines permit), and optional creative media assignments.

Open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors, and to first-year students with consent of the instructor. Spring semester. Professor Rangan.

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: weekly readings and film/media viewing, in-class conversation, collaborative group work, site-based field work (if public health guidelines permit), independent research, essay-based and optional creative media assignments Students with documented disabilities who will require accommodations in this course should be in consultation with Accessibility Services and reach out to the faculty member as soon as possible to ensure that accommodations can be made in a timely manner.


2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022