Spring 2019 HC 233H: American Prisons

Spring Term, 2018-2019

Professor: Tim Williams

4.00 credits

  • CRN 32517: Tuesday & Thursday, 10:00 - 11:20 @ CHA 201

In this course students will learn and develop basic research skills as they write an original research paper in the discipline of history. The course is structured in a way that leads students along the typical research trail while simultaneously discussing approaches to research related to the course theme. After identifying a research topic and problem in the first two weeks of the term, students will produce a series of preliminary assignments, including both a basic and annotated bibliography, literature review, and analyses of primary sources. As students assemble these materials into a final paper, they will learn how to write according to the Chicago Manual of Style. Before completing the paper, they will receive feedback from classmates following brief, “lightning presentations” of their work in progress. 

In order to develop these skills, we will focus on one specific area of inquiry: the history of prisons and prisoners in the United States from the eighteenth century to the late twentieth century. Within this framework, students will have an opportunity to research and write about a number of topics relevant to disciplines outside of history, including race, gender, bodies, sex, emotions, popular culture, public health, policy, law, politics, popular culture, prisoners of war, and more! We will read recent scholarship (several articles and one monograph) that model the various questions historians ask of this broad topic and the different methods they use to answer them.