Crime and Punishment in American Literature (352:351) Fall 2012
Professor H. Bruce Franklin Office: Hill 515. Phone: 353-5444. Office hours: Mon. 1:00-2:00; Wed. 2:30-3:30; and by appointment. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Home page: http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~hbf
This is a 300 level interdisciplinary course, designed for students interested in American literature and/or issues of crime and punishment. No prior knowledge of the subject or the literature is expected, but you will be required to do lots of reading and to engage with some difficult questions that may challenge your assumptions about crime and punishment. If you are mainly looking for an easy way to satisfy a general education requirement, please take a different course.
REQUIRED TEXTS: (Editions listed
are those ordered at
Narrative of the Life of
Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. Penguin.
Herman Melville, Billy Budd & Other Stories. Barnes & Noble Classics.
Upton Sinclair, The Jungle. New American Library.
Dashiell Hammett, Red Harvest. Vintage paperback.
Barry Eisler, Inside Out. Ballantine.
H. Bruce Franklin, Prison
Writing in 20th-Century
Tim O'Brien, In the
Donald Goines, Dopefiend. All
Héctor Tobar. The Tattooed Soldier. Penguin.
September 5 Introduction to the course.
September 10 Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of an American Slave (1845). (It’s not necessary to read the preface or other introductory material, just the Narrative itself [pp. 47-151 in the Penguin Classics edition].
September 12 Herman Melville, "Bartleby the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street" (1853)
September 17 Herman Melville, "Benito Cereno" (1855). It’s best NOT to read anything about “Benito Cereno” until AFTER you have finished the story. Do note, however, that the story was published as the nation was plunging toward the Civil War, six years later.
September 19 In Prison Writing in 20th-Century
"Autobiography of an Imprisoned Peon" (1904)
Songs of the Prison
"Go Down Old Hannah"
September 24 Upton Sinclair, The Jungle (1906): Chapters I-XXVII
September 26 Finish The Jungle
October 1 In Prison Writing in 20th-Century
"'Pinched': A Prison Experience" and "The Pen" (1907)
Kate Richards O'Hare from Crime and Criminals (1921)
Patricia McConnel "Sing Soft, Sing Loud" (1989)
October 3 Part of this class
will be devoted to guidance on your writing project.
October 8 Dashiell Hammett, Red Harvest (1929)
October 10 See the movie
October 15 In Prison Writing in 20th-Century
from The Autobiography of Malcolm X (1965)
Etheridge Knight "The Warden Said to Me the Other Day" (1968)
"Hard Rock Returns to Prison from the Hospital for the Criminal Insane" (1968)
George Jackson from Soledad Brother (1970)
Mshaka "Formula for Attica Repeats" (1974)
Edward Bunker from Little Boy Blue (1981)
Jack Abbott from In the Belly of the Beast (1981)
October 17 In Prison
Writing in 20th-Century
Nelson Algren "El Presidente de Méjico" (1947)
October 22 Donald Goines, Dopefiend (1971)
October 24 In Prison Writing in 20th-Century
Norma Stafford "In
"The Gone One" (1973)
William Wantling "from Sestina to San Quentin"
"Who's Bitter?" (1973)
Carolyn Baxter "
"35 Years a Correctional Officer" (1979)
"On Being Counted" (1979)
Washington "Diamond Bob" (1994)
"The Blues Merchant" (1994)
"Nobody's Hoss" (1994)
"Barracuda and Sheryl" (1994)
Oct 29 In Prison Writing in 20th-Century
Jimmy Santiago Baca "The New Warden" (1979)
"Past Present" (1992)
Assata Shakur from Assata (1987)
October 31 “Only the Beginning” Video shown in class.
November 5 Tim O'Brien, In the
November 7 Excerpts from Martin Luther King’s 1967
November 12 Héctor Tobar, The Tattooed Soldier (1998): Chapters 1-16
November 14 Finish The Tattooed Soldier
November 19 Part of this class will be devoted to discussion of your writing project.
November 21 No class (Friday class schedule)
November 26 Final day for submission of original short story or essay (minimum length 2,500 words). Do not leave the writing or printing of this project for the last minute. A hard copy is due in class. You must also submit a digitized copy, either on a disk or by e-mail, within 24 hours of this class.
November 28 Dannie
Martin "AIDS: The View from a Prison Cell" (1986)
"A Prescription for Torture" (1990)
Mumia Abu-Jamal "B-Block Days and
"Already Out of the Game" (1994)
December 3 “
December 5 Barry Eisler, Inside Out (2010)
December 10 Unfinished business
December 12 This class will be devoted to reviewing for the final.
December 17 Final examination, 3-5 PM.
Instructions for Writing Project
The essay or short story you are writing for this course is an opportunity for an original, valuable achievement. Think of it as something you are preparing for publication. That is, you are addressing an audience of reasonably intelligent strangers whom you must entice to read your work and who should be convinced after they have read it that it was well worth their time. Most questions about form and content can be answered easily if you put yourself in your readers' shoes. The essay or story should also contribute to our understanding of some aspect of the subject matter of the course.
The minimum length is 2,500 words. If you are having difficulty reaching this length, you can be sure there is some problem in your conception and development of your essay or story.
On proper use and acknowledgement
of sources, be sure you have a copy of the
The physical appearance of your work should be attractive and professional looking. It should be double-spaced throughout, and the print should be very black (not gray and faded) and pleasant to read. There is no adequate excuse for frequent errors in spelling, punctuation, or grammar. So allow yourself ample time for spell checking and proofreading.
Extensions without penalty will be granted only for medical or other emergencies. Be sure to keep a back-up copy of your paper. The comments on your paper (which may be extensive) are intended for your benefit, not as a rationale for the grade; please study them with care.
Expectations, Requirements, and Grades
We will be dealing with some highly controversial subjects. So for the course to be successful, discussion is crucial and we ought to have some hot and heavy arguments. Please be sure to bring to class the texts that we are studying.
Almost all the readings for this course were intended for a general audience, so the expectation is that everybody should be prepared to discuss them on the dates that they are due. There will be frequent brief tests on the readings, usually on the day they are due. These are not meant to be ambushes but aids for reading and for our discussion.
The class meets on all scheduled days, whether or not an assignment is indicated on the syllabus. Attendance is important.
In determining the grade for the course, approximately equal weight will be given to (1) the brief tests, (2) the short story or essay, and (3) the final examination. In addition, each student's work will be evaluated on overall performance, with special attention given to participation in discussion and to the level of knowledge and understanding ultimately reached.