Specifications: Each of the following topics builds upon or complements the readings that are contained in your syllabus. Due date for all essays is March 9, 2011. Recommended length of paper is 15-20 pages, typed and double-spaced not including footnotes and bibliography. For footnotes, use APA style for the Social Sciences – you can check our library website for further guidelines on APA style for footnote citation. You are expected to have notified your tutorial leader of your choice of topic by the week of December 1. All topics must be approved by your tutorial leader. No essays will be accepted unless the topic was approved in advance.
A. Topics relating to the Salem witchcraft trials-
The work I assigned for the course- Peter Charles Hoffer’s The Salem Witchcraft Trials: A Legal History should serve as a point of departure for all essays for this section. For the essay, you should also be sure to read Bernard Rosenthal’s Salem Story, 1993.
(1): The Salem trials have become a metaphor for state actions that are perceived to have resulted in injustice. Is this a fair comparison? What are the similarities and differences between the Salem trials and such phenomena as ‘McCarthyism’ in the United States in the 1950's
or modern trials for ritual abuse of children? See, for former, Cedric Belfrage, The American Inquisition, 1945-1960: A Profile of the McCarthy Era, (New York: Thunder’s Mouth Press, 1989; for latter, see Kathryn Lyon, Witch Hunt: The True Story of Hysteria and Abused Justice, Avon Books, 1998; Debbie Nathan and Michael R. Snedeker, Satan’s Silence: ritual abuse and the making of a modern American witch hunt. New York, Basic Books, 1995.
Also, use my article on “Witch Hunts- Modern Political Usage” contained in kit as background.
(2): In what sense were the Salem Trials political trials? Were judgements made on legal grounds or in order to serve a political purpose? Or both? (Use Otto Kirchheimer, Political Justice, 1961, pp. 3-118 as well as class reading by Ron Christenson as starting points. Also look at editor’s introduction in Theodore L. Becker, ed., Political Trials, 1971.
(3): Some commentators have argued that the history of witchcraft prosecutions is also in part the history of the persecution of women. Discuss the relationship between gender and witchcraft in the Salem trials drawing upon Carol Karlsen, The Devil in the Shape of a Woman: Witchcraft in Colonial New England(New York, 1987) and Elizabeth Reis, Damned Women: Sinners and Witches in Puritan New England(Cornell University Press, 1997.)
(4) Other topics relevant to issues raised by the Salem witchcraft trials- if you would like to choose another topic that relates the Salem trials but is not listed above, let your tutorial leader know and you can discuss whether it is feasible. .
B. The Trial of John Brown
Use Edward Stone’s Incident at Harper’s Ferry as point of departure for this section.
You should also read Stephen Oates, To Purge This Land with Blood, 1984.
Topics- (5) The Trial of John Brown more closely resembles the classical political trial than do the other three trials we are considering in depth. Drawing on Kirchheimer, Becker, and Christenson(see topic no. 3 above) discuss whether judicial decisions were made on legal grounds or on political grounds. Apply Christenson’s typology to Brown- does the trial fit into Christenson’s typology. Comment on the limitations and strengths of Christenson’s typology.
(6) Compare the trial of John Brown to the trial of Louis Riel - in what ways are they similar - in what ways are they different? For example, among other similarities and differences- consider the relationship between the Riel and Brown and their respective lawyers- how do their purposes differ from that of their lawyers? How do you explain these differences? Compare the performances of Brown and Riel during their trials- for Brown, look at the following essays- Robert McGlone, “John Brown, Henry Wise, and the Politics of Insanity,” pp. 213-252 and Charles Joyner,’ “Guilty of Holiest Crime”- The Passion of John Brown’ in Paul Finkelman, ed.,
His Soul Goes Marching On: Responses to John Brown and the Harpers Ferry Raid, University Press of Virginia, 1995. For Riel, look at Desmond Morton, intro., The Queen v. Louis Riel, University of Toronto, 1974; Maggie Siggins, Riel: A Life of Revolution, HarperCollins, 1994; most recently, Albert Braz, The False Traitor: Louis Riel in Canadian Culture, 2003.. (7) Compare the trial of John Brown to any of the following political trials- The trial of Nelson Mandela; The trial of Jeanne D’Arc; Trial of the Chicago 8. You can use more than one of these trials and you are welcome to use other political trials as well.
(8) Using the trial of John Brown as a point of departure, do political trials promote the legitimacy of the state or do they undermine the legitimacy of the state? What accounts for the failure of the state to promote legitimacy in some of these cases?
(9) Discuss the role of the media in the cases of John Brown and Louis Riel- how does the press portray the events of the trial? What are the different versions that are offered and how do they relate to the divisions in the society? How do the versions that appear in the media differ from the stories that emerge from the trial itself?
(10) Other topics relevant to issues raised by the trial of John Brown- if you would like to choose another topic related to the trial of John Brown not listed above, let your tutorial leader know and you can then discuss whether or not it is feasible.
C. The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Use Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem as point of departure for these topics.
Also make use of the website listed on syllabus for transcript of case.
(11) Using this trial as a reference point, support, qualify, or challenge the proposition that the law can and should be used to resolve conflicts between the claims of law and the claims of conscience. For this essay, you should read- in addition to Arendt- Lawrence Douglas’ The Memory of Judgement: Making Law and History in the Trials of the Holocaust, Yale University Press, 2001 and any one of the following- Mark Osiel, Mass Atrocity, Collective Memory, and the Law, Transaction Publishers, 1997; Carlos Santiago Nino, Radical Evil on Trial, Yale University Press, 1996; Ruti Teitel, Transitional Justice, Oxford University Press, 2000; Steven Ratner, Accountability for human rights atrocities in international law, 2nd edition, 2001.
(12) Compare the trial of Eichmann with other legal forums that have been used to prosecute war crimes and ‘crimes against humanity.’ Discuss the advantage and disadvantages of public trials as vehicles for persons accused of crimes against humanity. Compare the trial form to modified legal forms such as the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions. For this essay, you should read- in addition to Arendt- Lawrence Douglas’ The Memory of Judgement: Making Law and History in the Trials of the Holocaust, Yale University Press, 2001 and any one of the following- Mark Osiel, Mass Atrocity, Collective Memory, and the Law, Transaction Publishers, 1997; Carlos Santiago Nino, Radical Evil on Trial, Yale University Press, 1996; Ruti Teitel, Transitional Justice, Oxford University Press, 2000; Steven Ratner, Accountability for human rights atrocities in international law, 2nd edition, 2001.
Note: you should take into consideration the political context of each of these tribunals.
(13) Using the readings cited above, compare how different trials involving war crimes and crimes against humanity have solved the problem of separating personal responsibility from collective responsibility.
(14) Other topics relevant to issues raised by the trial of Adolf Eichmann. If you would like to choose another topic related to the trial of Adolf Eichmann not listed above, let your tutorial leader know and you can then discuss whether or not it is feasible.
D. The trials of Dorothy Joudrie
Use Audrey Andrews, Be Good, Sweet Maid as point of departure.
(15) Compare the trials of Dorothy Joudrie with that of Karla Homolka- both have been portrayed in the media as receiving an overly lenient punishment and both were represented at trial as suffering from battered spouse syndrome. How do these trials related to the depiction of female violence in popular trials? You might want to look at Pat Pearson’s When She Was Bad, Random House, 1997 and Judith Knelman, Twisting in the Wind: the Murderess and the English Press, University of Toronto Press, 1998.
(16) How did newspapers represent Dorothy Joudrie before the trial, during the trial, and after the trial? What is the dominant narrative of the trial? Does the narrative change over time? Are there differences in the way the different media represent the persons involved in the trial?
Compare narratives that were presented at trial with the narratives that were presented in the media.
(17) Other topics relevant to issues raised by the trials of Dorothy Joudrie. If you would like to choose another topic related to the trial of Dorothy Joudrie not listed above, let your tutorial leader know and you can then discuss whether or not it is feasible.
E. The following are topics related to the course that draw from other trials.
(18) Compare any one of the following trials with its theatrical reconstruction:
a. the actual trial of Oscar Wilde with Moises Kaufman’s Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde- see Doug Linder’s famous trials website- link from my website
b. the actual trial of Lizzie Borden with Sharon Pollock’s Blood Relations.- see link to trial of Lizzie Borden on my website.
c. The Scopes trial (the so-called monkey trial) and Inherit the Wind. Again, see famous trials website.
How does the theatrical reconstruction of the trial alter the historical record and the content of the trial? Are the issues brought out at trial different from what is emphasized in the play? And, if so, in what ways? On the basis of your analysis, discuss further the differences and similarities between trial form and theatrical rendition.
(19) Law and Representation- Take any one of the following popular trials and describe how gender, class, ethnicity, or any other social category is represented at trial and in the media that comment on the trial. (a) what are the primary narratives advanced by prosecution and defense? (b) why did the trial become popular? (c) how do the media represent the social categories whether gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, childhood, etc.? What is at stake in the trial both in terms of the legal issues and what the trial comes to symbolize?
Choose from the following list of trials:
The Scottsboro 9
Joan of Arc- as point of departure, use Marina Warner’s Joan of Arc: The Image of Female Heroism Trial of Lizzie Borden
Trial of Alfred Dreyfus- as point of departure, use Ruth Harris, Dreyfus: Politics, Emotion, and the Scandal of the Century Trial of Steven Truscott
(20) The Representation of law in the media- take some work in popular culture- it could be a series of films- or a television series- and show how law is viewed- whether positively as source of order and justice or negatively as a source of injustice and disorder or both at once. Or you can focus on representation of judges, lawyers, police, juries, etc. Use as a point of departure Nicole Rafter’s Shot in the Mirror, 2nd edition, 2006.
(21) Compare representations of Karla Homolka and Paul Bernardo at trial and in the media with representations of Ian Brady and Myra Hindley in English trial of 1965.
F. Famous Trials Website
22. Specifications: Go to the Famous Trials website at http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/ftrials.htm and select any one of the trials listed and use the trial to address any one of the following questions:
(1) How is gender, class, ethnicity, sexual orientation or any other social category represented at trial and in the media; (2) Apply Garfinkel’s article- Conditions of Successful Degradation Ceremonies- and discuss whether the trial successfully transforms the accused by lowering their status.