History 176 - January Term 2000

Doug Catterall

Office: 445 Main Building

Work Telephone: 363-5190

Home Telephone: (612) 788-3963

e-mail: dcatterall@csbsju.edu

Office Hours: MWF, 9a.m.-10a.m. and by appointment

Class Meetings: MTWRF, 10:45 a.m.-12:45 p.m., Quad 245

Web Address: www.employees.csbsju/dcatterall/truecrime.htm

True Crime Stories in Early Modern Europe: 1650-1815

Goals and Approach:

Beginning in the 17th century Europeans of all backgrounds became very interested in tales about crime, immoral behavior and, perhaps most interestingly, the life stories of famous criminals. In this course we will explore how and why this new interest emerged as well as the rise of writers of pulp fiction and non-fiction works who catered to it. We will read and discuss in detail a few of the major works from this "true crime" genre, specifically Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders and Eugene François Vidocq’s The Memoirs of Vidocq (the first of these works is available at the CSB Bookstore and the second can be obtained at the main history office on either the CSB or the SJU campus). By way of comparison, we will also look at a range of documents generated around actual criminal cases of the day (to be distributed in class) as well as the writings of present-day historians (available at the Alcuin and Clemens Library Reserves). Our main objective will be to relate popular stories of crime to the attitudes of European authorities towards criminals and to the views held by common folk. Your grade in this course will be based on your participation in discussion and your performance on a series of short writing assignments. See below for more particulars on the class requirements.

Ideal Environment:

For me a syllabus represents a contract between me (the instructor) and you (the student). Part of that contract for me is that we both make an honest effort to create a productive classroom environment, as this is an important part of what really allows learning to take place. The heart of the class-room environment (for me) rests in respect, enthusiasm, and openness. This may sound general, so I will elaborate. Enthusiasm means a persistent willingness to tackle the problems that come up in the readings and assignments for each week. It does not mean that everyone always has to show up happy and cheerful, but readiness to make a contribution to class is a must. Respect in the classroom means valuing each person's participation, not because their ideas are the best (although you might think so), but because they are trying to make a contribution to the group. Openness lies in the freedom for people to express their thoughts and opinions, which includes scope for debate and disagreement with me or anyone else. The closer we approach this ideal environment, the more the classroom will be an effective space for clarifying, making manageable and even experimenting with the issues confronted in the course. This ideal may not always be achievable, but in my view we should always strive for it.


Course work consists of four elements: participation in discussion; any assigned informal writings; contribution to the class web-based archive; and three reaction papers.


a. Preparation: In order to understand the lectures and participate in class discussions and other activities you will need to do the assigned readings. Please budget time to complete readings for the date in which they appear in the assignment and reading schedule. The readings are in two forms, which are listed below.

Background Literature:

-Selections from: Peter Linebaugh, The London Hanged: Crime and Civil Society in the Eighteenth Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995).

-The Class Web-Based Archive (see below for details)

Primary Sources:

-Daniel Defoe, Moll Flanders (London: Penguin Books, 1989).

-Eugene François Vidocq, The Memoirs of Vidocq (Philadephia, PA: T.B. Peterson & -Brothers, 1859), 320-453.

-Additional source handouts as needed, specified below in reading list if significant reading time outside of class is necessary.

All of the above readings will be required for the course. Most important for an overview of key issues will be the background readings, available at the Reserves of the Alcuin and Clemens Libraries. The primary resource readings (Moll Flanders, The Memoirs of Vidocq and additional handouts) will be the primary focus of our discussions and the papers you will write.

b. Discussion: This may seem like a small thing and something unrelated to the real stuff (passing the exams and hammering out the papers). I want to stress that participation in discussion will count in your grade and that active participation often improves performance. In general, I will gauge participation on a daily basis with a check, check-plus, check-minus system.

c. Informal Writings: Occasionally I may assign short writing exercises to help focus our discussions. The emphasis will vary from paper to paper. Informal writing will also be graded with a check, check-plus, check-minus system and include comments. In a shorter course like this such exercises should be few in number.

d. Internet Web-Archive: Each of you must turn in to me the URL (internet address, eg. www.csbsju.edu) of a secondary work on crime in late 18th-century/early 19th-century France. The URL is absolutely due by class time on Tuesday, January 18, 2000. I will take the various URLs and post them on the web-site for this class and then all will be able to use them for the final reaction paper in the course. Keep in mind that if you find more effective sources you and your classmates will benefit!

e. Credit for Participation: Informal writing(s), class discussion and providing the URL will be worth 25% of the final grade.

Reaction Papers: You will have to write three reaction papers, one for each week of the course and always due in class on Monday that begins the next week. Each paper will be worth 25% of the total grade in the course. Instructions for the papers are at the class web-site: www.employees.csbsju/dcatterall/truecrime.htm

Guidelines for Academic Work:

Late Papers, Other Work & Missed Examinations: Late work of any sort will lose a grade per day after the set due date. Barring a serious illness or other extenuating circumstance which can be documented, there will be no exceptions to this rule. Examinations not taken on the scheduled day will result in a zero being entered into the gradebook unless a documented extenuating circumstance arises.

Incompletes: Incompletes will be granted on a case by case. Please come see me one week before the end of the term if you think that you will need to take an incomplete. If you do not do this I will have difficulty in granting your request.

Plagiarism: Plagiarism is the representation of the work of another as your own. In all of the writing you do for this course you must make clear to me which ideas in a paper are your own and which come from someone else. This is especially important for any formal essays you write. In these such essays you must cite all primary and secondary sources you use in accordance with the proper conventions. I will hand out a sheet explaining the basics of citation before any formal essays come due. If for some reason you do not receive a copy of this hand-out, do not assume you will be exempt from following its guidelines. You are responsible for knowing what’s in the hand-out. The recommended penalties for plagiarism are a failing grade on the assignment for the first offense and failure of the course for a second offense. Please heed this warning.

Readings and Due Dates:

Week 1: Crime, Social Change and Economics in the World of Moll Flanders

January 3, Read: Moll Flanders, 43-102.

January 4, Read: Moll Flanders, 102-108 & London Hanged, 74-111.

January 5, Read: Moll Flanders, 108-155.

January 6, Read: Moll Flanders, 156-179;Watch: Film #1 (In class viewing)

January 7, Read: Moll Flanders, 180-222; No Class

Week 2: Moll Flanders and Others Explain Why Crime Happened

January 10, Read: Moll Flanders, 223-284; Turn In: Reaction Paper #1

January 11, Read: Moll Flanders, 285-328.

January 12, Read: Moll Flanders, 329-364 & London Hanged, 119-152.

January 13, Read: Moll Flanders, 365-391 & Additional Source Reading; Watch: Film #2 (Evening viewing 7:30 p.m.-9:45p.m. in Main on the CSB Campus, class meets as usual)

January 14, Read: Moll Flanders, 392-427.

Week 3: The Police and the Criminals in Revolutionary & Napoleonic France

January 17, Read: Vidocq, 320-353.

January 18, Read: Vidocq, 353-387; Turn In: Reaction Paper #2 and Internet Web-Archive URL

January 19, Read: Vidocq, 388-404.

January 20, Read: Vidocq, 404-429.

January 21, Read: Vidocq, 429-453.

January 24, Turn In: Reaction Paper #3

Please Note: The syllabus is subject to change if the circumstances of the class warrant it.

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