Brown Course Offerings: Previous Years

Prior Year Course Offerings for Brown students

This is a partial list of courses for Brown students in the previous academic years related in some way to crime, punishment, prisons, incarceration, or the criminal justice system.


 

Spring 2019

AFRI 0550 African American Health Activism from Emancipation to AIDS

This historical survey course examines African American activism and social movements from Emancipation to the contemporary period through the lens of African American access to health resources. By paying close attention to how social and cultural aspects of medicine impact access and quality of care by race, gender, and sexuality, the course examines how segregation, poverty, incarceration, and policing shaped activism and healthcare. The course develops a sense of how African American activists crafted responses to different historical crises including Reconstruction, Jim Crow, Civil Rights, and the War on Drugs by the demands they made for specific resources.

COLT 0810G Equity Law Literature Philosophy

Justice, rigorously applied, yields injustice. This paradox haunted Western aspirations toward legal and political justice from antiquity to the Renaissance. It necessitated the formulation of a complementary principle, equity, whose job it was to correct or supplement the law in cases where the strict application of it would lead to unfairness. In England, equity was enforced by a separate system of law, and it was a weighty, ambiguous term of great emotional force, with a particular appeal to Shakespeare. After its decline, Dickens and Kafka wrote two of the greatest literary works set in a world without equity.

ECON 1370 Race and Inequality in the United States

We examine racial inequality in the United States, focusing on economic, political, social and historical aspects. Topics include urban poverty, employment discrimination, crime and the criminal justice system, affirmative action, immigration, and low wage labor markets. Black/white relations in the US are the principle but not exclusive concern. 

ENGL 0200H The Last Eighteen Years: Literature and Conflict in the 21st Century

This course will examine contemporary fiction alongside research being done in political science and economics, hoping to establish productive points of intersection. Topics like the Iraq War, mass incarceration, and the 2008 financial crisis will be discussed alongside Hamid’s Reluctant Fundamentalist, Beatty’s The Sellout, Smith’s Swing Time, and Beyoncé’s Lemonade. Supplementary reading will likely include writing by Coates, Piketty, and Arendt. 

HIST 0150G History of Law: Great Trials

Through discussion of a variety of precedent-setting trials throughout history, this course will probe the nature of demonstrative justice, the relationship between ideology and law in different societies, the politics of trials, and the relationship of trials to terror(ism) and social marginalization. Cases to be covered include: Socrates, Jesus Christ, the mythical Japanese Okuninushi, witch trials, the French Revolutionary Terror, the Dreyfus Affair, the Scopes (monkey) trial, the Stalinist show trials, the war crimes trials at Nuremberg, the Chinese Gang of Four, and the trials of Nelson Mandela and Saddam Hussein.

MPA 2475 Policy Problems of the 21st Century: Social Justice and Advocacy, Strategies for Change

This course examines efforts that work toward social justice in contemporary political and social life. The class begins by evaluating different perspectives on how to define social justice. We consider the special challenges involved in defining social justice across borders or in diverse communities. We then examine strategies and channels used to promote social change.

PHIL 1600 Philosophy of Law

Philosophical examination of the chief classical and contemporary theories of the nature and function of law. Topics include the definition of law, the nature of legal systems, the logic of legal reasoning, the analysis of basic legal conceptions (e.g., of right and duty), legal rules and principles, law and justice, and law and morality.

PHP 1820 Designing Education for Better Prisoner and Community Health

This course will provide the needed background and context for understanding the multiple issues and challenges facing prisoners and the national justice and health systems that impact their fate. In addition to contextual background, students in this course will attain the knowledge and skills needed to develop a final practical, real world health communication/ intervention project that addresses one or more health literacy challenges facing people who are incarcerated. 

POLS 1824M The Politics of Race and the Criminal Justice System

This course examines the politics of race and the criminal justice system in the U.S. It proceeds in three parts. First, it examines the political origins and consequences of racial disparities in citizens’ interactions with the police, courts and prisons. Next, it considers how the public, the media, and politicians relate and respond to these issues. Finally, the course concludes by examining the prospects for reform and the consequences of inaction.

POLS 2150 Democratic Theory, Justice, and the Law

This course will examine contemporary and historical work in the area of democratic political and legal theory. Topics include the relationship between democracy and individual rights, deliberative vs. aggregative conceptions of democracy, the substance/procedure controversy, and the role of judicial review in a democracy. 



Fall 2018

ETHN 1650B Asian Americans and the Racial State: Exclusion and Incarceration

The exclusion of Chinese from naturalization and immigration (from 1870 to 1943) and the wholesale incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII remain important touchstones for thinking about the Asian American experience and lenses through which to examine current struggles over immigration, mass incarceration and race in North America.

HIST 0150C Locked Up: A Global History of Prison and Captivity

A long history lies behind the millions of men and women locked up today as prisoners, captives and hostages. Beginning in antiquity and ending in the present, this course draws on materials from a variety of cultures across the world to explore incarceration's centuries-old past. In examining the experience and meaning of imprisonment, whether as judicial punishment, political repression, or the fallout of war, the class will ask fundamental questions about liberty as well. 

INTL 1803A The International Politics of Organized Crime

Organized crime and extra-legal actors have established themselves as political actors in every region of the world. Violence has exploded in countries as criminal organizations compete with each other, the state, as well as a variety of other non-state armed groups for control of illicit markets, local dominance, and political influence. This course offers a broad understanding of these organizations, their origins, and the various illegal and violent activities in which they are engaged. This course is comparative and interdisciplinary in nature, drawing from research in criminology, sociology, anthropology, economics, and political science. 

MES 1235 Policing and Imprisonment in the Modern Middle East

Policing figured prominently in recent events, from the self-immolation of Tunisian street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi to the rise of the Islamic State. Repressive regimes relied heavily on police, prisons, and criminal law to maintain power and authority. This course examines recent uprisings and ongoing conflicts, and questions of state and non-state violence. Major topics are: the role of Islam in law and criminal justice; the imposition of European colonial rule; the rise of police states; the production and maintenance of a gendered social order; non-state and informal mechanisms of maintaining “law and order”; and the role of law and security.

PLCY 1702H Crime and Punishment in the USA

In matters of crime and punishment, the United States is exceptional. It imprisons a larger share of its population than any comparable society, past or present. It is also, the most violent country in the developed world. These are staggering facts, given that the US is also the richest society in world history. In this course, we sample work from a wide number of disciplines in an effort to understand this America “exceptionalism. We examine the arguments that justify (or reject) state-sanctioned punishment and we discuss what criminal justice reform looks like, today and what it might look like tomorrow.

POLS 0820I Crime, Mafias and Prison

Will develop framework for analysis of criminal behavior in a variety of contemporary and historical settings. Examines the rationality behind criminal choices, how governments seek to control crime, alternatives to state-enforcement of criminal law, origins and operation of organized crime and mafia groups, and how crime affects regions characterized by failed or weak states. Study crime in a variety of contexts, including in the Sicilian Mafia, 18th century piracy, contemporary drug and sex markets, and prison gangs. Will develop tools that can be used to understand the observed variation in criminal activity, the organizational structure of criminal activity, and their broader consequences.

POLS 0820U Drug War Politics

This seminar examines the politics, practice, and consequences of government efforts to regulate mind-altering substances since the early 20th century. Although much of the focus is on the contemporary United States and Latin America, the coverage is broadly historical, comparative, and global. The main drugs focused on are cocaine, opium, and cannabis, but will include alcohol, tobacco, and synthetics. The course also evaluates policy alternatives and the obstacles to policy reform. The course draws on readings from fields such as political science, anthropology, criminology, and history. 



Spring 2018

AFRI 0550 African American Health Activism from Emancipation to AIDS

This historical survey course examines African American activism and social movements from Emancipation to the contemporary period through the lens of African American access to health resources. By paying close attention to how social and cultural aspects of medicine impact access and quality of care by race, gender, and sexuality, the course examines how segregation, poverty, incarceration, and policing shaped activism and healthcare. The course develops a sense of how African American activists crafted responses to different historical crises including Reconstruction, Jim Crow, Civil Rights, and the War on Drugs by the demands they made for specific resources.

AMST 1700L Bad Rehab: Rehabilitation Regimes of the American Ethic

This course examines the American obsession with rehabilitation in various social settings ranging from alcoholism and drug use to HGTV-style home repair. We investigate the theoretical foundations of rehabilitation within the scholarly traditions of criminology, alongside empirical examples ranging from rescue and rehabilitation of victims of sex trafficking in Asia, to the global implementation of mandatory prison labor as a measure to earn "good time" and reduced sentences, to the entrepreneurial restoration of abandoned row houses in Philadelphia's "recovery house movement" and its impacts on gentrification.

ENGL 1160F Reporting Crime and Justice

Crime and justice stories are people stories. The drama of everyday life is played out every day in courtrooms. This advanced journalism course will get students into the courtrooms, case files and archives of Rhode Island's judicial system and into committee hearings at the State House where they will report on stories that incorporate drama, tension, and narrative storytelling.

ENGL 1190V Languages of Conscience: Slave Narratives, Prison Writing, and Abolition

We’ll read and respond to nonfiction writings that arise from chattel slavery in the U.S and one element of its afterlife, the prison system: their goals, their styles, their strategies. Writings will include analytical and creative responses to these works. The Center for Slavery and Justice will be a resource for us. 

HIST 0150G History of Law: Great Trials

Through discussion of a variety of precedent-setting trials throughout history, this course will probe the nature of demonstrative justice, the relationship between ideology and law in different societies, the politics of trials, and the relationship of trials to terror(ism) and social marginalization. Cases to be covered include: Socrates, Jesus Christ, the mythical Japanese Okuninushi, witch trials, the French Revolutionary Terror, the Dreyfus Affair, the Scopes (monkey) trial, the Stalinist show trials, the war crimes trials at Nuremberg, the Chinese Gang of Four, and the trials of Nelson Mandela and Saddam Hussein.

HIAA 1182 Spaces and Institutions of Modernity

This undergraduate seminar will explore canonical and emerging theories of modernity as they intersect with our understanding of space and the role of the built environment and designed objects within it. The seminar will be organized as a series of case studies of the iconic sites and institutions of modernity (the metropolis, the world's fair, the museum, the prison) as well as others that have also come to exemplify it (the ship, the plantation, the railroad, the colony). Class time will include analysis of primary documents and field trips to local sites.


Fall 2017

AMST 1600C The Anti-Trafficking Savior Complex: Saints, Sinners, and Modern-Day Slavery

How can we understand the global movement to combat human trafficking within critical frameworks on "industrial complexes"? Drawing from scholarship on the prison industrial, non-profit industrial, and white savior complexes this course examines human trafficking through the lens of race, class, gender, and national forms of power and subjectivity. Readings will problematize the so-called saints and sinners of the movement, investigating various global helping projects that exist to stop "modern day slavery."

ECON 1370 Race and Inequality in the United States

We examine racial inequality in the United States, focusing on economic, political, social and historical aspects. Topics include urban poverty, employment discrimination, crime and the criminal justice system, affirmative action, immigration, and low wage labor markets. Black/white relations in the US are the principle but not exclusive concern.

HIST 1262M Truth on Trial: Justice in Italy, 1400-1800

Why do we think that one human being can judge another? How did this activity, enshrined in legal and political systems, profoundly shape society? We'll examine the changing face of justice, from the medieval ordeal to judicial torture; expansion of inquisitorial and state law courts; and the eventual disillusionment with the use of torture and the death penalty in the eighteenth century. Using Italy as focus, the course explores how law courts defined social, political, scientific, and religious truth in Italy. Students may pursue a project on another geographical area for their final project for the course.

POLS 0820U Drug War Politics

This seminar examines the politics, practice, and consequences of government efforts to regulate mind-altering substances since the early 20th century. Although much of the focus is on the contemporary United States and Latin America, the coverage is broadly historical, comparative, and global. The main drugs focused on are cocaine, opium, and cannabis, but will include alcohol, tobacco, and synthetics. The course also evaluates policy alternatives and the obstacles to policy reform. The course draws on readings from fields such as political science, anthropology, criminology, and history. The seminar is reading intensive, and is designed to cultivate critical writing and presentation skills. 

POLS 1820T Race, Crime, and Public Policy

This course will provide students with an in-depth analysis of the social and political connections between criminal justice policies and race. The first section of the course will cover the concepts of race and ethnicity and the social construction of target populations. Secondly, students will learn what public policy is, how it is made, and methods of analysis. Next, we will cover the history of the criminal justice system and the creation of mass incarceration. Lastly, we will cover specific criminal justice policies and practices and their ramifications for the civil liberties and rights of racial minorities.

RUSS 0320E Crime and Punishment through Literature

The seminar will explore how texts of different epochs and cultures, ranging from Ancient to Modern and from drama to poem, novel, and film treat the issues of transgression, punishment, justice, and forgiveness. We will examine each text both in terms of its artistic merit and its place within its cultural and historical milieu.

SOC 2030 Social Stratification, Inequality and Mobility

This course provides an introduction to contemporary literature on social stratification, social mobility, inequality in the United States, abroad, based on research articles and books. We focus on theories, data, methods, facts about categorical dimensions of inequality (race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation); core dimensions of stratification systems (income, earnings and wealth distributions; poverty; education; the intergenerational transmission of socioeconomic status; social mobility); social institutions that govern social stratification (families, schools, labor markets, and the justice system); key inequalities that stem from stratification systems (e.g., health). This is a reading course, not a research seminar.

 

 


 

Spring 2017

BIOL 1920B Health Inequality in Historical Perspective

Seminar takes a historical perspective to explore causes of health inequality in the US. Draws on studies from the 19th century-present. Examines socio–political and economic context of health/disease, focusing on how race, class, and gender shape the experience of health, disease causality, and public health responses. Includes health consequences of immigration, incarceration, race-based medicine, the Chicago heatwave, and Katrina. 

ECON 1410 Urban Economics

The first part of the course covers the set of conceptual and mathematical models widely used to understand economic activity both between and within cities. The second part of the course examines various urban policy issues including urban transportation, housing, urban poverty, segregation and crime. The course makes extensive use of empirical evidence taken primarily from the United States. 

GNSS 1961D Politics of Resistance

States claim to benefit the people they represent. But the relationship between the state and the people is not always a happy one, nor devoid of conflict and violence. In this course, we will examine the conditions of state power and forms of resistance to it. We will explore these questions through a wide range of literature from Sophocles’ Antigone to Martin Luther King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail. Different examples of resistance around the world will be considered including anticolonial resistance, hunger strikes, conscientious objection, the civil rights movement in the US, and on women’s agency in shaping these movements.

JUDS 0060 The Bible and Moral Debate

How was the Bible employed in past moral debates that divided American society, e.g., debates over the legitimacy of slavery? How is the Bible used in contemporary moral discourse, e.g., concerning abortion, capital punishment and gay rights? What does the Bible really have to say about such issues? This course will consider these and other questions through a close reading of pertinent texts which address topics such as abortion, homosexuality, capital punishment, immigration, gender, family violence, race and slavery, disability, genocide, the environment and inequality of wealth.

POLS 1820D Civil Liberties: Moral, Political and Legal Approaches

This course will examine major constitutional controversies within the context of wider debates in political and legal theory. Readings from Supreme Court cases and prominent texts in political/legal theory. Topics include free speech, privacy, abortion, takings and capital punishment.  

POLS 1821T Criminal Justice System

An examination of police, criminal courts, and prisons in the contemporary United States. Major topics include police discretion, plea bargaining, and theories of punishment. We will also examine the politics of crime, including federal efforts to influence these traditional state functions. Major assignments are based in the Rhode Island criminal justice system.


 

Fall 2016 

AFRI 0830 How Structural Racism Works

This lecture course is an exploration of structural racism: the normalized and legitimized range of policies, practices, and attitudes that routinely produce cumulative and chronic adverse outcomes for people of color. With a special focus on African-Americans in the post Civil Rights Era, we will explore how structural racism “works” intersectionally and in compounded ways in housing, criminal justice, education, employment, and media. We will also consider cultural, political and social challenges to structural racism as well as the the role and impact of colorblind ideology and behavioralism as dominant countervailing explanations for racial disparities.

AFRI 1060Y Sex, Violence and the Policing of Black Struggle

This seminar considers some of the historical dimensions and diverse manifestations of the relationship between sex and violence across the eras of black social movement in order to inquire into the nature of a society structured in antiblackness. We consider violence, gender, sex, and freedom across an interdisciplinary terrain, dealing with problems of representation, punishment, policing, and self-determination. The real significance of iconic black lives lost to policing in recent days and years lies within this realm of sexual violence, beyond an examination of law and policing.

AMST 1700D Race and Remembering

This junior seminar engages debates in Ethnic Studies, History, Gender Studies, and the Public Humanities that grapple with the relationship between historical narratives, memory, and social relations of power. Students will examine current tensions in national memory. Each year the topic of this course will change to consider racial formation through alternating social and cultural institutions. This semester we will consider the history of racial formation through encounters with the judicial system, with policing practices, with detention, and incarceration. Students will collaborate to make these histories publicly accessible using methods in public humanities.

ANTH 1224 Human Trafficking, Transnationalism, and the Law

Designed to give students an opportunity to engage in transnational research on social issues through an extended case study of a new generation of international norms that identify and combat "human trafficking." The course format combines seminar discussions, lectures, and small group exercises. Students will learn by doing. As we consider legal instruments, UN and U.S. documentary archives, anti-trafficking media such as films and websites, and the prosecution of criminal networks, we will experiment with alternative methodologies for analyzing them. We will study the relation of texts to the social and political contexts of their production and circulation.

ECON 1370 Race and Inequality in the United States

We examine racial inequality in the United States, focusing on economic, political, social and historical aspects. Topics include urban poverty, employment discrimination, crime and the criminal justice system, affirmative action, immigration, and low wage labor markets. Black/white relations in the US are the principle but not exclusive concern.

ECON 2530 Behavioral and Experimental Economics

An introduction to the methodology of experimental economics with an emphasis on experiments designed to illuminate problems in organizational design and emergence of institutions, and experiments investigating the operation of social and social-psychological elements of preference such as altruism, inequality aversion, reciprocity, trust, concern for relative standing, envy, and willingness to punish norm violators. Experiments studied will include ones based on the prisoners' dilemma, dictator game, ultimatum game, and especially the voluntary contribution mechanism (public goods game) and the trust game.

HIST 0150C Locked Up: A Global History of Prison and Captivity

A long history lies behind the millions of men and women locked up today as prisoners, captives and hostages. Beginning in antiquity and ending in the present, this course draws on materials from a variety of cultures across the world to explore incarceration's centuries-old past. In examining the experience and meaning of imprisonment, whether as judicial punishment, political repression, or the fallout of war, the class will ask fundamental questions about liberty as well. 

POLS 1440 Security, Governance and Development in Africa

Some of the fastest-growing economies in the world now lie in sub-Saharan Africa. Yet Africa is also home to some of the world’s most corrupt and violent states. This course will provide a variety of lenses through which to view these and other paradoxes on the continent, with a focus on security, governance and economic development. Topics will include the long-term consequences of colonialism and the slave trade; the politics of independence; the causes and effects of crime, violence and civil war; democracy and democratization; the promise and pitfalls of foreign aid; and the challenges of building strong, stable states.

POLS 1500 The International Law and Politics of Human Rights

Introduces students to the law and politics of international human rights; examines the construction of an international human rights regime and its influence on international politics. Will survey the actors and organizations involved in the promotion of human rights around the globe, as well as the obstacles. Will review competing conceptions of human rights, whether human rights are universal, problems of enforcement, and the role of human rights in foreign policy. Major topics include civil and political rights; economic, social and cultural rights; genocide, torture, women's rights, humanitarian intervention, and the international criminal court.

POLS 2185 Political Theory of the American Constitution

This course will examine major constitutional controversies within the context of wider debates in political and legal theory. Readings will come from Supreme Court cases and prominent texts in political/legal theory. Topics will include free speech, privacy, abortion, and capital punishment. Our aim is two fold. We want to understand the basic framework and content of the United States constitution as it has been elaborated by the Supreme Court. But we also want to go beyond this legal understanding and to challenge existing jurisprudence. To this end we draw on classic and contemporary texts in political theory. 

URBN 1230 Crime and the City

This course focuses on crime and the making of urban space, as well as how the making of urban space helps to create and categorize criminal subjects and the concept of cultural criminality. In addition to looking at the geography of race, class, and power in a contemporary US setting, this semester we will focus in on gang identity and performance, police tactics and territoriality, graffiti as an act of spatial transgression, homelessness, and notions of socio-spatial justice. As I will show with the course texts and through classroom lectures, studying crime is about studying space, and visa versa.