Skip to Main Content

WRIT 7.39 - Reading and Writing True Crime

Course Title: Reading and Writing True Crime Description: The genre of true crime is wildly popular. Enjoying its sensational narratives for entertainment purposes, however, raises difficult questions. What are the implications for justice when podcaster

Course description

The genre of true crime is wildly popular. Enjoying its sensational narratives for entertainment purposes, however, raises difficult questions. What are the implications for justice when podcasters, documentarians, and tabloids weigh in on high profile cases? How do new visual and social technologies impact the genre? What does our cultural fascination with violence reveal about our society? This seminar offers a critical introduction to the practice of reading and writing true crime. We aim to extend the boundaries of the genre by considering underrepresented harms and unconventional stories. We begin with theory from harm studies and critical criminology that contextualizes the state’s role in defining what constitutes crime. Then we embark on an extended period of self-directed research complimented by shared readings that illustrate the potential of the true crime genre to reveal social harms. Readings include, Slavoj Žižek’s Violence, Jess Walter’s Ruby Ridge, Dave Cullen’s Columbine, and Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. By the end of the term, you will complete a significant independent study that culminates in either an original true crime narrative or a critique of an existing true crime story. Ahead of your final project, you’ll practice a number of real-world short forms, including pitches, proposals, and reviews. You will also experiment with ways of writing-without-writing and pre-writing designed to level-up your skills, build confidence, and cut the stress and procrastination out of your process.

[Source: Registrar, 02/23/2024 ]

In the Library's collections

You can use one of these subject headings to start your research in the library's online catalog:

Introductory reading(s)

Selected book title(s)

Other library resource(s)

Podcast information and manuals

Selected True Crime podcasts

Finding scholarly articles & journal title(s)

Finding newspaper articles

Newspapers are an excellent source for "true crime" stories. Many newspapers have crime beat reporters. You start your search looking for crime stories to see what you get. If you get a long list, you can use other terms to narrow that search.

Internet resource(s)

Citing and Tracking Your Bibliographic References

Use this guide to help you learn how to correctly cite and keep track of the references you find for your research.

Keeping up with scholarly journal literature

Want an easy way to keep up with scholarly journal literature in any discipline? And you use a mobile device? You can install the BrowZine app and create a custom Bookshelf of your favorite journal titles. Then you will get the Table of Contents (ToCs) of your favorite journals automatically delivered to you when they become available. Once you have the ToC's, you can download and read the articles you want from the journals for which we have subscriptions.

You can get the app from the App Store or Google Play.

Don't own or use a mobile device? You can still use BrowZine! It's also available in a web version. You can get to it through our online catalog here. The web version works the same way as the app version. Find the journals you like, create a custom Bookshelf, get ToCs and read the articles you want.