Making a Killing: Murder and True Crime Non/Fiction Narratives|
Fall 2018 not offered
This course explores the genre of true crime in a comparative setting and by way of a study of different typologies of murder: spree killing, fratricide, serial killing, and infanticide. Roland Barthes wrote in Mythologies that, "Periodically, some trial, and not necessarily fictitious like the one in Camus's THE STRANGER, comes to remind you that the Law is always prepared to lend you a spare brain in order to condemn you without remorse [...] it depicts you as you should be, not as you are." What does murder reveal about the society and historical context in which it takes place? How are the murders in question "made"? How, for example, does the "judicial media circus" condition the trial's outcomes? What is the relationship between real crimes and the narratives they generate and their fictional counterparts? What does the consumption of murder narratives tell us about the state and perception of law and order? How does this perception differ over time and in different (post)-national contexts? These are some of the questions this course will take up through an analysis of literary (fictional and nonfictional) and cinematic texts in a variety of national settings. Some of the murder cases we will explore include the serial killings attributed to the "Monster" of late 20th-century Florence and of H. H. Holmes in Chicago of the World's Fair (1893); the 1996 murder of six-year-old JonBenet Ramsay; the 1959 murder of the Clutter Family (the basis for IN COLD BLOOD); the murder of Meredith Kercher in Perugia, Italy, and Amanda Knox's conviction; and the death of Azaria Chamberlain in 1980 in Australia, for which her mother, Lindy, was accused of infanticide.
||Gen Ed Area Dept:
|Course Format: Seminar||Grading Mode: Credit/Unsatisfactory|
||Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (FRST-MN)
Truman Capote, IN COLD BLOOD
Albert Camus, THE STRANGER
Erik Larsen, DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY
Fred Schepisi, A CRY IN THE DARK
Joyce Carol Oates, MY SISTER, MY LOVE
Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi, THE MONSTER OF FLORENCE
Barbie Latza Nadeau, ANGEL FACE
Jonathan Demme, THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS
Berlinger and Sinofsky, BROTHER'S KEEPER
Hughes Brothers, FROM HELL
John McNaughton, HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER
episodes from TRUE DETECTIVE; THE KILLING; ENGRENAGES; TOP OF THE LAKE.
PLEASE NOTE: The reading list includes titles that will serve as subjects for student presentations and not necessarily for study as a primary text for the entire class.
|Examinations and Assignments: |
Papers of varied length totaling at least 20 pp. and due at dates throughout the semester, student presentations, peer reviews, contributions to blogs.
|Additional Requirements and/or Comments: |
This class will be graded on a pass/no pass basis and students must achieve a minimum cumulative grade of C in order to pass the course. Students will receive letter grades on all assignments and, while invited to office hours at any time, will also be required to meet with the instructor once around mid-term to discuss progress in the course. In lieu of a final grade, students will receive written comments that, with the student's permission, will also be sent to her/his advisor; the instructor hopes the comments will serve as the basis for a conversation about intellectual growth and curiosity, objectives, and skills and their assessment.
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