Ethics of Reading VII: Crime & Punishment

VII. Punishment: Prison

Wed, 12/06/2017 - 4:30pm
301 Marx Hall

The seminar will study important legal cases in the field of criminal justice and penology, alongside some works of literature that address analogous issues. Focus on reading legal opinions, especially concerning: guilt, search and seizure, interrogation and confession, trial, appeal, and punishment. Attention also to the analysis of narrative and rhetoric in both law and literature.

Visiting faculty will join the seminar approximately every other week. Open to the public 4:30 to 6pm; then a break, and then students only for final hour.


Brown v . Plata, 563 U.S. 493     
Florence v. County of Burlington, 566 U.S. ___ (2012
Foucault, Discipline and Punish, selection
Robert Ferguson, Inferno, chapter 1 
Caleb Smith, “Detention Without Subjects” 
Loïc Wacquant, “From Slavery to Mass Incarceration” 
Melville, Bartleby (Dover Thrift)

Peter Brooks
Princeton University

Peter Brooks, Sterling Professor Emeritus of Comparative Literature at Yale University, joined the Princeton University faculty in 2008 as Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Scholar, in the University Center for Human Values and the Department of Comparative Literature. At Princeton he directs a project on “The Ethics of Reading and the Cultures of Professionalism,” which included the Symposium, “The Humanities in the Public Sphere,” held at Princeton in April 2012, the source of the recent book, edited with Hillary Jewett, The Humanities and Public Life (Fordham 2014).

He has published on narrative and narrative theory, on the 19th and 20th century novel, mainly French and English, and, more recently, on the interrelations of law and literature. He is the author of several books, including Enigmas of Identity, Henry James Goes to Paris, winner of the 2008 Christian Gauss Award, Realist Vision, Troubling Confessions: Speaking Guilt in Law and Literature, Psychoanalysis and Storytelling, Body Work, Reading for the Plot, The Melodramatic Imagination. and The Novel of Worldliness. He is also the author of two novels, The Emperor’s Body (Norton, 2011) and World Elsewhere (Simon and Schuster,1999). He edited Balzac, The Human Comedy: Selected Stories (2014). He co-edited, with Paul Gewirtz, Law’s Stories (Yale, 1996) and, with Alex Woloch, Whose Freud? (Yale, 2000). He is a member of the Editorial Advisory Board for Comparative Literature and Yale Journal of Law & Humanities. His essays and reviews have appeared in The New York Times, New York Review of Books, The New Republic, Times Literary Supplement, The Nation, London Review of Books, Critical Inquiry, New Literary History, Yale Law Journal, and elsewhere. He has held Guggenheim, NEH, and ACLAs fellowships, and received the Mellon Foundation’s Distinguished Achievement Award.

Caleb Smith
Yale University

Caleb Smith is professor of English and American Studies at Yale University and the author of The Oracle and the Curse (2013) and The Prison and the American Imagination (2009).

His edition of The Life and the Adventures of a Haunted Convict, an 1858 narrative by Austin Reed, an African American inmate of New York’s Auburn State Prison, appears from Random House in 2016.

Smith has written about contemporary media and the arts for AvidlyBombPaper MonumentYale Review, and other venues. He is a contributing editor at Los Angeles Review of Books and a co-editor of No Crisis, an LARB special series on the state of criticism in the twenty-first century, appearing online and in print in 2015.

Co Sponsor(s): 
Sponsored by The University Center for Human Values, the Department of Comparative Literature and The Program in Law and Public Affairs, and funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s Distinguished Achievement Award.