Crime and Punishment in American Literature (352:351) Fall 2013
Professor H. Bruce Franklin Office: Hill 515. Phone: 353-5444. Office hours: Mon. 3:50-5:00; Wed. 2:30-3:30; and by appointment. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Home page: http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~hbf
Teaching Assistant: Steve McNulty. Office hours: Mon. 1:00-2:15; Wed. 11:30-12:50. E-mail: email@example.com.
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 New Jersey Books and Bradley Hall. You may substitute.)
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. Penguin.
Herman Melville, Billy Budd & The Piazza Tales. Barnes & Noble Classics.
Upton Sinclair, The Jungle. Signet Classic.
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. Holloway House.
Héctor Tobar. The Tattooed Soldier. Penguin.
September 4 Introduction to the course.
September 9 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 11 Herman Melville, "Bartleby the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street" (1853)
September 16 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 18 In Prison
Writing in 20th-Century
Foreword by Tom Wicker
"Autobiography of an Imprisoned Peon" (1904)
September 23 Upton Sinclair, The Jungle (1906): Chapters 1-27
September 25 Finish The Jungle
September 30 In Prison Writing
Jack London "'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 2 Part of this class will be devoted to guidance on your
October 7 Dashiell Hammett, Red Harvest (1929)
October 9 See the movie
October 14 In Prison Writing in
Malcolm X from The Autobiography of Malcolm X
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 16 In Prison Writing in 20th-Century
Nelson Algren "El Presidente de Méjico" (1947)
October 21 Donald Goines, Dopefiend (1971)
October 23 In Prison
Writing in 20th-Century
Norma Stafford "In
"The Gone One" (1973)
William Wantling "from
Sestina to San Quentin" (1973)
Carolyn Baxter "
"35 Years a Correctional Officer" (1979)
Jerome Washington "Diamond Bob" (1994)
"The Blues Merchant" (1994)
"Nobody's Hoss" (1994)
"Barracuda and Sheryl" (1994)
Oct 28 In Prison
Writing in 20th-Century
Baca "The New Warden" (1979)
"Past Present" (1992)
Assata Shakur from Assata (1987)
October 30 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)
November 4 Martin
Luther King’s 1967 speech about
“Only the Beginning” Video shown in class.
November 6 Tim
O'Brien, In the
November 11 Finish In the
November 13 Héctor Tobar, The Tattooed Soldier (1998): Chapters 1-9
November 18 Finish The Tattooed Soldier
November 20 This class will explore relations between the prison and American music from slavery to the present. Read the following:
In Prison Writing in 20th-Century
Songs of the Prison
"Go Down Old Hannah"
Etheridge Knight, "Hard Rock Returns to Prison from the Hospital for the
Criminal Insane" (1968)
If you have any songs that you think are especially relevant, please bring them to class on disc or flash drive.
November 25 Part of this class will be devoted to your writing projects.
November 27 No class (Friday class schedule)
December 2 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.
December 4 Barry Eisler, Inside Out (2010): Chapters 1-13
December 9 Finish Inside Out
December 11 This class will be devoted to reviewing for the final.
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 physical appearance of your work should be attractive and professional looking. It should be double-spaced throughout. There is no adequate excuse for frequent errors in spelling, punctuation, or grammar. So allow yourself ample time for proofreading. Extensions without penalty will be granted only for medical or other emergencies.
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.