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The People vs. The Media: Race and Gender in Representations of Crime

Course Description

What does it mean to be “on trial?” In this discussion-based course, students will explore questions of truth, guilt, innocence, and what it means to be an American in conversation with a variety of fictional and nonfictional popular media representations of crime and punishment. Though this course will focus largely on contemporary media, we will explore a broad selection of historical representations of criminal trial and punishment—from the gallows confessions of colonial North America to the anti-lynching activism of Ida B. Wells. By considering media representations of crime in these historical contexts, we will be able to foreground the work of anti-racist scholars who argue that the Black body is always already on trial in America and to consider these theories alongside headline cases such as the O.J. Simpson trial and the trials of the Central Park Five.

From there, we will explore the role of Whiteness and gender in media representations of crime—from Casey Anthony to Cornerstore Caroline. We will then zoom out of the televised courtroom to consider the question of “trial by media”—has the popularity of true crime content and the increased ability to disseminate our opinions through more mediums than ever before turned the American public into one giant jury? Or are ideas of guilt and innocence, criminal and upstanding American, even more divided than ever? By examining the representation of the trial as a dramatic spectacle, this course invites you to reconsider our American media, legal, and social landscapes.

During this course, you will:

• Develop a theoretical knowledge-base that will allow them to analyze a variety of media texts
• Make insightful and grounded connections between historical and contemporary events and scholarly debates
• Gain confidence in communicating complex ideas and concepts with their peers
• Think critically about their own media consumption and ideologies
• Familiarize themselves with the expectations of a discussion-based college seminar

Prerequisites

No prerequisites for this course are required. Die-hard true crime fans and those who have never listened to an episode of Serial or My Favorite Murder are both welcome; the only requirement is a willingness and passion for learning.

Sections

Two Sections Available to Choose From:

Online sections of Pre-College courses are offered in one of the following modalities: Asynchronous, Mostly asynchronous, or Blended. Please review full information regarding the experience here.


Dates: June 27, 2022 - July 08, 2022
Duration: 2 Weeks
Meeting Times: M-F 12:15P-3:05P
Status: Closed
Format: On-Campus
Instructor(s): Heather Lawrence
Course Number: 10148

Dates: July 25, 2022 - August 05, 2022
Duration: 2 Weeks
Meeting Times: M-F 12:15P-3:05P
Status: Closed
Format: On-Campus
Instructor(s): Heather Lawrence
Course Number: 10151