HISTORY 366 - Crime and Drugs in Modern America
Section: 001
Term: WN 2018
Subject: History (HISTORY)
Department: LSA History
Requirements & Distribution:
With permission of instructor.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:

This course explores the various government wars on crime and drugs in the United States during the twentieth century, from alcohol prohibition through the crack cocaine and opioid “epidemics,” from anti-vice crusades in the Progressive Era through the recent rise of mass incarceration under what critics label the American prison-industrial complex. The U.S. currently incarcerates around 2.3 million people, a higher percentage than any other nation in the world; counting probation and parole, more than 7 million Americans live under the supervision of the criminal justice system. At least 24 million Americans violate drug prohibition laws each month, primarily by smoking marijuana or the illicit use of pharmaceuticals; of the half million people imprisoned for nonviolent drug offenses, two-thirds are African American or Latino. This course will examine the deep historical roots of this contemporary landscape, especially the fuzzy and shifting boundaries between legality and illegality and the ways in which race, class, gender, and urban/suburban space have shaped policing practices, criminal justice enforcement, and media representations of criminality.

Topics range from Mafia syndicates and Mexican cartels to the FBI and Big Pharma, from “stop and frisk” policing to the “just say no” campaign against teenage pot smoking, from immigration controls to the criminalization of political dissent, from crusades against juvenile delinquency to panics over kidnappers and sex offenders, from Attica and the prisoners’ rights movement to racial controversies such as the Rockefeller Drug Laws, Central Park Five, and Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson. This is an active learning course with minimal lecturing that revolves around in-class discussion of readings and films, in-depth analysis of historical documents and digital archives, small-group collaborative research projects and presentations, field trips to campus archives and the Michigan State Prison, and a policy report in the form of a multimedia digital exhibit for the final project.

Course Requirements:

3 group presentations, weekly blog posts, active participation, final project

Intended Audience:

All undergraduates; students considering careers in law and public policy; course counts for Minor in History of Law and Policy and the RC’s Crime and Justice Minor

Class Format:

2 large (lecture) meetings and 1 discussion section per week

HISTORY 366 - Crime and Drugs in Modern America
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
MW 4:00PM - 5:30PM
002 (DIS)
Th 2:00PM - 3:00PM
003 (DIS)
Th 3:00PM - 4:00PM
NOTE: Data maintained by department in Wolverine Access. If no textbooks are listed below, check with the department.

ISBN: 9780814776384
Punished : policing the lives of Black and Latino boys, Author: Victor M. Rios., Publisher: New York University Press 2011
ISBN: 9780812221800
Smack : heroin and the American city, Author: Eric C. Schneider., Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press 2008
ISBN: 0674979826
From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime: The Making of Mass Incarceration in America, Author: Elizabeth Hinton, Publisher: Harvard University Press 2017
ISBN: 0393353524
The War on Alcohol: Prohibition and the Rise of the American State, Author: Lisa McGirr, Publisher: W.W. Norton 2016
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