CRIM 2650 Lecture Notes - Lecture 20: Critical Criminology, Feminist School Of Criminology, Richard Sparks

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14 Aug 2016
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Recap:
Criminology:
1) Academic
2) Popular: includes images and stories about crime and criminality in mainstream popular
culture; film, novels, other media products..must be taken seriously, as it is a way in
which ordinary people learn about crime..thus, these images should not be disregarded,
but rather we must engage with popular criminology through criminological aesthetics,
which aims to analyze how popular criminology constructs its images of crime..in doing
so, it orients criminology towards more humanities-oriented methods..emphasis on
format and content of media products
a) Intertextual analysis: various intertexts that inspire and form the images, ideas, and
various interpretations and understandings of crime..Dark Knight example
b) Symptomatic reading: situating a pop cultural product within a trend of thought that is
characteristic of a particular society within a particular time period..the film is situated
within the context of the Bush administration; post-9/11 era..
-this film has been interpreted by the American society as a pop cultural product that directly
speaks to the experience of terrorism in a post-9/11 environment
-the trilogy, Lord of the Rings, is also another pop cultural product that can be situated within
that particular context
-The Two Towers: reference the traumatic attacks of 9/11..twin towers..this title hit some cultural
nerves in 2002 as it was interpreted as a specific reference to the attacks
-shortly prior to the film’s release, there was an online petition that circulated to rally support to
rename the two towers to something less offensive: highlights the heightened cultural sensitivity
around filmmaking in the post 9/11 era..the title of the film was morally repugnant
-despite this petition, there has been no change in the film’s title..
-The author was regularly described as a devout Christian, similar to Bush, whose Christian
faith was carried into public service..they both work from a similar moral world view
-Christian imagery of good and evil tends to follow a binary logic of representation
-in this battle, the morally good are represented through images of light
-the forces of evil are imagined and visualized as forces of darkness
-this is a similar rhetoric to Bush’s speeches immediately after the attacks..America was seen as
a force for goodness
-popculture and politics intersect: popculture works to the advantage of certain political
platforms
-popcultural products, such as films, can help make visible what are otherwise intangible,
abstract concepts
-Lord of the Rings made visible for the American public, during the time of the Bush
administration, the “enemies; evil”...they helped translate what is an intangible, abstract moral
concept of evil into a visual, visible, observable form..it gave them a particular kind of face,
which helped these films classify and categorize groups into us vs. them
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-the director is criticized for the ways in which he translated the forces of good and evil into
simplistic black and white codings..as a result, the forces of darkness are visualized as dark
-overlapping ideas of whiteness and blackness map onto these abstract ideas of good and evil
-racist notion
-delineates us versus them
-it has real world analogs in the post 9/11 era: the unjust treatment of darker skin individuals as
potentially threatening (hypersecurity state)
-popcultural images can also help us construct what we imagine as ideal victims
-The Hunger Games example: follows Alison Young’s concept of criminological aesthetics:
examining the ways in which spectators interpret certain things..
-audiences can identify with or against victims
-popculture represents men as strong, heroic protagonists rather than victims
-concept of hierarchy of victimization
-how we identify with certain ideas of victimhood
-Rue: using popculture to tap into people’s minds and imaginations about their understanding of
victims
-their imagination of victims diverged from the film’s representation of victims
-the idealized victim in our society is a White female (someone in need of protection, rescue,
etc.)
-because Rue diverged from their own imagination of idealized victim, they withhold sympathy
towards certain victims
Course Description:
Defining Academic Criminology:
-academic criminology consists of multiple criminologies that have developed over time
-there are 2 main schools of thoughts:
1) Mainstream criminology: often been seen as supportive of the status quo and the moral
order in society..as such, it is conceived of as either directly or indirectly part of the
normalizing project of the state, but mainstream criminology is not monolithic, as it
consists of 2 main schools of thoughts:
a) Classical criminology: concerned with crime control
b) Positivist criminology: concerned with figuring out the causes of crime
2) Critical criminology: has multiple traditions..Marxist criminology, Foucauldian-inspired
criminology, feminist criminology, cultural criminology..each strand of critical criminology
aims to challenge the goals, theories, and methods of mainstream criminology (primary
goal is to prevent or control crime)..as critical criminology’s primary goal is to promote
social justice and change..
-academic criminology can be defined by its content and schools of thoughts, but can also be
defined in the sense of examining where it comes from
-academic criminology situated in the context of culture: cultural product..where do
criminological theories emerge?
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