Weekend line-up

bannerJust collating a few quick thoughts on some things I saw in the blog feed:

Gloriana talks about how she stopped to look things up along the way through the readings. This can be a good habit to develop. It’s a way of taking control of your education and connecting your interests and curiosities to the course material. Like many of us, she talks about the simultaneous revulsion and attraction for violence. It shows us something about human nature, and maybe something about ourselves. Does it help us offload some of our darker impulses?

Seth draws a distinction between violence and crime, which fed Thursday’s discussion. Another thing we talked about was Shecter’s decision to leave out gangsters from True Crime. We’ll be looking at both gangsters and nonviolent crime in this course, so it’s nice that these discussions come up early.

tabloidSara highlights Schecter’s line that “America was from the beginning fertile ground for true narratives of crime.” I like how that parallels Ellroy’s opening line from American Tabloid: “America was never innocent.” We’ll read some Ellroy later in the semester.
A good question would be why has it been fertile ground? We talked some about how the state, or some power, defines crime, and also about Hobbes’ idea of the Leviathan, the state power that keeps us safe from each other. Did America’s democracy foster crime by putting limits on state power?

Someone else (Is it Lindsay? I’m still working on figuring out everyone’s names) talks about the relationship between media and violence – “Imagine if we had no TVs.” That can be difficult, from our media-saturated perspective. But until the twentieth century, there was no video. There was no audio. We’ve always had stories though, through word of mouth, through song, and through print. Did stories have more impact in the old days, when they had less competition? Or do they have more impact now that they’re in HD and surround sound?

There are still some blogs with the default header and/or default title. I encourage people to personalize it a little more. Unless bright orange and yellow balloons actually reflect your vision of true crime…

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One Response to Weekend line-up

  1. Jim Groom says:

    Nice round up, Paul, and I am loving that you framed some of the early concepts we focused on Thursday, namely the distinction between crime and violence and Schechter’s idea of True Crime as something other than organized. I also love the idea of bringing Ellroy’s American Tabloid into the discussion of the distinctly violent beginnings of America. The line I quoted Thursday “Violence is as American as cherry pie” was from H. Rap Brown, and sheds an interesting light on the 1960s engagement with America’s violent beginnings of both salvery and the centuries long displacement and virtual genocide of Native Ameircans. On a sidenote, H. Rap Brown’s own crazy biography lands him with life in prison in 2000 for having a shootout with policemenat his home over an arrest warrant for failure to appear in court for the conviction of impersonating an officer of the law. Bizarre.

    Finally, I love the idea of America’s particular struggle with individual and state rights potentially explaining it being one of the most violent and criminally-minded nations in the world.

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