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Topics in History: Like Common Criminals: Crime in Canada and the United States, 1776-1970

Image of a gun sitting on sand with bullet casings around

The popularity of true crime podcasts, crime museums, and fictionalized accounts of famous outlaws are only a few of the cultural markers that demonstrate the public’s enduring fascination with criminal acts and the people who perpetrate them. Yet, despite the obvious impact on our society of both crime and responses to it, the questions of how criminals are classified, identified, and sculpted in the popular imagination are rarely explored. This course tackles the complicated academic footprint of the crime and criminality that winds through the cultural, legal, and political histories of Canada and the United States.  
Students will have an opportunity to explore the historical context of famous figures like Al Capone, Lizzie Borden, and Grace Marks, and to develop their understanding of how public and political perceptions of crime and criminals are shaped by factors such as gender, race, and class. Over the course of the semester, students will develop their historical inquiry and writing skills through the exploration of a range of primary and secondary sources and the production of a highly polished research project exploring a topic of their choice.

This course is offered as a 3.0-unit seminar during the 2022-2023 year. 

Department of History, Queen's University

49 Bader Lane, Watson Hall 212
Kingston ON K7L 3N6




Queen's University is situated on traditional Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe territory.