English R1A

Reading and Composition: Criminality and the Criminal Mind

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
3 Fall 2004 Padma Rangarajan
MWF 12-1 221 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

"Miller, A. The Crucible

Shakespeare, W. Macbeth

Shelley, M. Frankenstein

Stevenson, R. The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr.Hyde

Wilde,O. The Picture of Dorian Gray

Wright, R. Native Son

Course Reader: ?Rime of the Ancient Mariner?, selections from ?Paradise Lost?, selections from Discipline and Punish, ?The Murders in the Rue Morgue?, ?The Sign of Four? "


"Once I falsely hoped to meet with beings who?would love me for the excellent qualities I was capable of unfolding. I was nourished with high thoughts of honor and devotion. But now crime has degraded me beneath the meanest animal?was there no injustice in this?? Am I thought to be the only criminal, when all human kind has sinned against me??You hate me; but your abhorrence cannot equal that with which I regard myself.?--- Frankenstein

Mary Shelley?s Frankenstein raises vexing, irresolvable questions about the nature and formation of the criminal. Frankenstein?s monster commits brutal, unspeakable acts but claims his downfall is the responsibility of human society and his creator, who shun him. As the novel progresses, it becomes increasingly unclear where the locus of criminality lies, and whose acts?the monster?s or Frankenstein?s?are more inherently ?criminal?.

This class will be focused around fictional attempts to explain and explore the nature and mentality of the criminal. What possesses people to step outside the bounds of ?normality? to become criminals.? When and how are those borders contained.? One might argue, and people certainly have, that human nature is inherently criminal (replete with the supposedly sinful pleasures of lust, anger, and greed), kept in check through a rigorous system of social control. As such, we are constantly seeking to explain, and explain away, those who would step outside the boundaries of so-called normality and engage in their criminal instincts. What is criminality? Is it inherent to the human condition? A condition of birth, education, class, race, or gender? Who is responsible for the creation of a criminal? the society which creates the criminal, or the criminal himself? Where are the limits of justice, and when does lawful vengence become unlawful crime? This is an exhausutive topic, one which we cannot do full justice to in a semester. Rather, we?ll simply examine a large sampling of attempts to read the criminal mind over a large historical period.

Students will be assigned to keep a journal in reponse to assigned readings, and for a total of five papers of varying lengths (2-4 pages). There will be an emphasis on revision and editing. "

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