You are here: Home History Crime, Heredity and Insanity in American History Discussion


Document Actions
  • Content View
  • Bookmarks
  • LTI Export
Author: (course_default)
Weekly discussion questions for Crime, Heredity and Insanity in American History

Weekly Discussion Questions

Week Topic Discuss


From Sin to Sickness
  • What is the paradox of popular justice according to Walker? Do you find it paradoxical? Why or why not?
  • Discuss the illustrations and Haltunnen’s analysis of them.


From Sin to Sickness (cont).
  • Haltunnen’s is a story of secularization yet many historians have questioned whether culture did indeed secularize in the 19th century. If you were one of those historians, what one major challenge to Haltunnen’s argument, logic, or evidence could you make?


Sin or Sickness?
  • What are the implications of modern science on the Quaker City story of Devil Bug? Of the seducer?


Sin or Sickness? (cont.)
  • Was your judgment on any of the characters altered by reading Carey and Rosen?


Sin or Sickness? (cont.)
  • Did you go to school with someone who would have eaten the marshmallow?
  • What were the fates of the characters you chose? Did they deserve their fates? Were there any characters you now wish you had chosen to focus on in light of their fates? 


  • The current motto of the Chicago police department is “To Protect and Serve.” If you were going to write a motto for American police departments in the 19th century, what would it be and why?
  • What do you make of Guiteau’s earlier life?


The Jukes and the Criminal Type
  • Some historians have argued that Dugdale’s ideas were distorted after his death; could you write a mathematical formula or a cookbook recipe for the percentages that Dugdale attributed to nurture and nature in the criminal propensities of the Jukes?


Eugenics in the Courts
  • What are the key elements of the classical liberal and socialized progressive views of the state and their conceptions of criminal responsibility? 


Eugenics in the Courts (cont.)
  • If eugenics was so flawed, why did it have such success?
  • Compare how Fass and Willrich use the Leopold & Loeb case.
Reuse Course
Download IMS package