Teaching

Dr. McCorkel’s course offerings for Spring 2021 are:

  • SOC 3300 Sociology of Law
  • CRM 4000 Research Seminar in Wrongful Convictions

See below for course descriptions and additional information, including required texts. Consider supporting a local, independent bookstore by ordering course texts from A Novel Idea in Philly. Office hours are listed on course syllabi (available to registered students via Blackboard).

Required Texts - Spring 2021

  • SOC 3300 Sociology of Law

    • Miller, Chanel. 2019. Know My Name. Viking.
    • Selected readings, available on Blackboard
  • CRM 4000 Research Seminar in Wrongful Convictions

    Consider supporting a local, independent bookstore by ordering course texts from A Novel Idea bookstore (you can order through their website or via email books@anovelideaphilly.com).

    • Harris, D. 2012. Failed Evidence: Why Law Enforcement Resist Science. NY: New York University Press.
    • Leo, R. 2008. Police Interrogation and American Justice. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Course Descriptions

  • GWS 5000 #SayHerName: Gender, Race, and Social Justice

    Feminist legal theory critically explores how and why the law facilitates gender inequality and considers strategic ways in which law may be used to challenge inequality. This course begins with questions raised by critical race feminism and further developed through the social movement to #SayHerName.  #SayHerName is a vital part of the broader Black Lives Matter movement for racial justice, with an explicit focus on police violence as it has been directed at Black women and girls. We will begin here and then over the course of the semester we will use the movement’s intersectional framework as a template for identifying and theorizing the broader terrain of state violence from the mass incarceration of women and girls to the law’s complicity in sexual assault and trafficking. Students enrolled in the course will do applied case research on behalf of incarcerated women for their semester project.

  • 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 Bell, 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, sexual assault, and sexual harassment.

  • CRM 3400 Punishment & Society

    Recently featured in the Philadelphia Inquirer and named as one of Villanova University’s “Captivating Courses,” Punishment & Society is an applied research seminar in which students provide legal and research assistance to incarcerated clients who are pursuing appellate relief and/or commutation. The course explores theoretical debates regarding the nature of modern punishment in order to understand why we punish, what forms punishment takes, and how these forms are a product of political culture, socioeconomic arrangements, and history. In addition, the course covers the following topics in depth: social inequality (race, class, and gender); privatization, the evolution of prison law and the prisoner rights movement; solitary confinement; life sentences; the death penalty; rehabilitation and reentry; and global alternatives to mass incarceration.

  • SOC 1000 Introduction to Sociology