Teaching

Dr. McCorkel’s course offerings for Fall 2018 are:

  • CRM 3300 Sociology of Law
  • CRM 3400 Punishment & Society

See below for course descriptions and additional information, including required texts. Office hours are listed on course syllabi (available to registered students via Blackboard).

Required Texts - Fall 2018

  • CRM 3300 Sociology of Law

    • Stevenson, Bryan. 2014. Just Mercy. New York: Random House
    • Selected readings, available on Blackboard
  • CRM 3400 Punishment & Society

Course Descriptions

  • CRM 3300 Sociology of Law

    Sociologists define the law as a social institution — one that structures social life as it is itself structured and informed by the social. As such, the law is not free from the influence of larger forces like history, culture, and the political economy nor are we free from it.  Our actions, identities, bodies, and relations are organized by legal categories and practices.  The analysis of the way the law shapes and is shaped by social life is, in large part, what distinguishes the sociology of law from other ways of thinking about legal ideologies and systems.  The first part of the course will consider the purpose of the law and examine how legal systems evolve and change.  Such questions have been crucial for social theorists and we will spend a good bit of time wrestling with the ideas of key classical thinkers like Durkheim, Marx, and Weber, and more contemporary theorists like Foucault, MacKinnon, and Crenshaw. Throughout the course, we will consider the relationship between law and social inequality, with a focus on race and gender.  In democratic societies, a central project of the law is to abrogate and remedy past and current forms of social inequality.  In actual practice, the law occupies a more ambiguous position. It is a tool wielded by social elites to protect their position and advance their interests.  At the same time, the law is a device used by marginalized groups to challenge and undermine oppressive social arrangements. We will consider these dueling aspects of the law as we analyze such topics as American slavery jurisprudence, citizenship, police use of force, self defense and Stand Your Ground laws, and sexual harassment.

  • CRM 3400 Punishment & Society

    Social theorists have long been concerned with the nature of crime & punishment.  Punishment is, after war, one of the most dramatic exercises of state power. Regardless of the form it takes (execution, confinement, fines, or torture), it has profound consequences not only for the individual and his or her family, but also for communities and society at large.  Sociologists argue that punishment is at the center of what it means to be social in that punishment, in some form or other, has existed at all times and in all places. In this course, we will interrogate theoretical debates regarding the nature of modern punishment for the purpose of understanding why we punish, what forms punishment takes, and how these forms are a product of political culture, socioeconomic arrangements, and history.  In the second half of the course, we will turn from sociological theory to a directed analysis of mass incarceration. Among the topics we will explore in depth: social inequality (race, class, and gender); privatization, the evolution of prison law and the prisoner rights movement; solitary confinement; life sentences; mental illness; the death penalty; rehabilitation and reentry; and global alternatives.

  • SOC 1000 Introduction to Sociology