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The Punitive Imagination Speakers

Commentator: Patricia Ewick, Professor of Sociology, Clark University

Speaker List

Michelle Brown is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Tennessee and Fellow at the Indiana University Poynter Center for the Study of Ethics and American Institutions. Her research interests include media, culture, and the sociology of punishment, law, and risk. She is co-editor of Media Representations of September 11 (Praeger, 2003), an anthology which examines interdisciplinary interpretive approaches to media coverage of the 2001 terrorist attacks. Her recent volume, The Culture of Punishment: Prison, Society, and Spectacle (NYU Press, 2009) takes readers on a tour of the sites where culture and punishment meet—television shows, movies, prison tourism, and post 9/11 new war prisons—arguing that because most Americans sanction the infliction of pain from a distance, we risk overlooking the reasons for democratic oversight of the project of punishment and, more broadly, justifications for the prohibition of pain. Her current project is a volume examining criminological theories through the lenses of popular culture, co-authored with criminologist Nicole Rafter. Dr. Brown is a recipient of the University Professor Award and the College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Teacher Award. Her work has appeared in American Quarterly; Crime, Media, Culture; The Journal of Criminal Justice and Popular Culture; and The Prison Service Journal. She received her B.A. in Comparative Literature and Film Studies and her Ph.D. in Criminal Justice and American Studies at Indiana University.

Patricia Ewick is Professor of Sociology at Clark University. Prof. Ewick received a B.A. from Tufts University in 1976 and a Ph.D. from Yale in 1985. Her principal research areas include deviance, law and social control. For the past few years, Ms. Ewick has been studying legal consciousness among ordinary American citizens in order to identify how, when, and why people come to define their everyday disputes and troubles as potentially legal matters. She is currently studying narrative discourse and collective action. Ms. Ewick has published three books: The Common Place of Law, Social Science, Social Policy and Law and Law, Ideology and Consciousness. She is currently writing a book on resistance to the Archdiocese of Boston among Catholic laity. She has also published articles in American Journal of Sociology, Gender and Society, Law and Policy, Law and Social Inquiry, Law and Society Review, The New England Law Journal and Research in Law, Politics and Social Control. She is the past co-editor of Studies in Law, Politics and Society and former associate editor of the Law & Society Review

Leo Katz is Frank Carano Professor of Law at the University of Pennsylvania. His work focuses on criminal law and legal theory more generally. By connecting criminal law, moral philosophy and the theory of social choice, he tries to shed light on some of the most basic building block notions of the law—coercion, deception, consent, and the use and abuse of legal stratagems, among others. Katz is the author of several books: Bad Acts and Guilty Minds: Conundrums of the Criminal Law (University of Chicago, 1987); Ill-Gotten Gains: Evasion, Blackmail, Fraud and Kindred Puzzles of the Law (University of Chicago, 1996); and most recently Why the Law Is So Perverse (forthcoming), which he researched with the support of a Guggenheim Fellowship. Together with Stephen Morse and Michael Moore, he edited Foundations of the Criminal Law (Oxford, 1999).

Caleb Smith is assistant professor of English and American Studies at Yale. His research concerns American literary and cultural history, with special attention to the relations between social imaginaries and legal institutions. He is interested in how literary works, produced and received within broader public spheres, involve themselves with such problems as punishment, secular justice, human rights, legal personhood, and the character of the modern self. His first book, The Prison and the American Imagination was recently published by Yale University Press. His work on John Brown is part of a second book project, provisionally entitled The Oracle and the Curse: A Poetics of Justice, 1765-1865, about the rhetoric and reception of legal, religious, political, and literary texts in which speakers invoke a higher law as the origin of their authority.

Carol Steiker is the Howard and Kathy Aibel Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. Her primary interest is the broad field of criminal justice, where her work ranges from substantive criminal law to criminal procedure to institutional design, with a special focus on issues related to capital punishment. Professor Steiker served on the board of Editors of the Encyclopedia of Crime and Justice (2nd ed. Macmillan, 2002), she is the editor of Criminal Procedure Stories (Foundation 2006), and she is co-author of the Kadish, Schulhofer & Steiker casebook, Criminal Law and Its Processes (8th ed. Aspen 2007). Recent publications address topics such as the relationship of criminal justice scholarship to law reform, the role of mercy in the institutions of criminal justice, and the likelihood of nationwide abolition of capital punishment. Professor Steiker is a graduate of Harvard-Radcliffe Colleges and Harvard Law School, where she served as president of the Harvard Law Review, the second woman to hold that position in its then 99-year history. After clerking for Judge J. Skelly Wright of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals and Justice Thurgood Marshall of the U.S. Supreme Court, she worked as a staff attorney for the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia, where she represented indigent defendants at all stages of the criminal process. She has been a member of the Harvard Law School faculty since 1992, where she was Associate Dean for Academic Affairs from 1998-2001 and where she currently serves as the Dean’s Special Advisor for Public Service and as a first-year Section Leader. She is also a faculty affiliate of the Edmond J. Safra Foundation Center for Ethics at Harvard University. In addition to her scholarly work, Professor Steiker has worked on pro bono litigation projects on behalf of indigent criminal defendants, including death penalty cases in the United States Supreme Court. She has also served as a consultant and an expert witness on issues of criminal justice for non-profit organizations and has testified before Congress and the Massachusetts legislature.