Core Module Information
Module title: Crime in Text and Film

SCQF level: 10:
SCQF credit value: 20.00
ECTS credit value: 10

Module code: CLP10108
Module leader: Anne Schwan
School School of Arts and Creative Industries
Subject area group: Media and Humanities


Description of module content:

Crime, its causes and possible remedies have preoccupied commentators from all classes and backgrounds throughout history. This module introduces you to representations of crime, punishment and the convicted from the nineteenth century onwards—in a range of literary texts and other media—giving you an opportunity to explore changing definitions of criminality. Whilst the module asks you to think about depictions of crime and punishment within their specific cultural-historical context, you are also encouraged to consider differences and continuities in the ‘criminal imagination’ between different historical periods. The module aims to provide you with the ability to critically analyse and compare representations of people who commit crimes in literature, the media, film and TV and to examine the relationship between these representations and wider social concerns. By using a range of media, including online resources, the module offers you the opportunity to engage with a variety of cultural products and to develop a number of advanced research and transferable skills.

Beginning with the first half of the nineteenth century, the module looks at the ways in which literary authors and social commentators such as Charles Dickens responded to the social problem of crime. You will read popular murder ballads from the period that were sold to the crowds at public executions alongside the murder poems of more canonical writers like Robert Browning. Reading other texts from the nineteenth century and moving on to the contemporary period, you will be encouraged to consider how representations of criminality intersect with ideas about deviance from dominant class, racial, ethnic, gender and sexual identities. The module offers you an opportunity to engage with a range of genres, from poetry, street literature and historical fiction to film and TV series (such as Orange is the New Black). Brief overviews of contemporary debates on prison education and US mass incarceration will complement our textual work to broaden your perspective and encourage interdisciplinary engagement with sociological and criminological debates in this area.

Throughout the module, you will also be asked to think about the importance of self-representation as a response to debates about law-breakers, and you will therefore look at a number of textual spaces where the voices of so-called delinquents themselves emerge. The weekly lectures will provide an introduction and set the context for group and individual work. Interactive exercises will focus on close reading and analysis of the assigned material. You will also be asked to engage with recent scholarly and wider public debates on the material in question.

Learning Outcomes for module:

Upon completion of this module you will be able to

LO1: Critically reflect on a range of literary texts and other cultural products in oral and written form
LO2: Examine the relationship between these cultural products and their cultural-historical context
LO3: Compare representations of criminality and punishment in different genres and historical periods
LO4: Analyse how individual texts relate to each other and/or to common themes
LO5: Critically reflect on relevant scholarly and public debates around crime and penal practices in society, text and film

Full Details of Teaching and Assessment
2023/4, Trimester 2, Face-to-Face, Edinburgh Napier University
Occurrence: 001
Primary mode of delivery: Face-to-Face
Location of delivery: MERCHISTON
Partner: Edinburgh Napier University
Member of staff responsible for delivering module: Anne Schwan
Module Organiser:

Student Activity (Notional Equivalent Study Hours (NESH))
Mode of activityLearning & Teaching ActivityNESH (Study Hours)
Face To Face Lecture 20
Face To Face Tutorial 10
Independent Learning Guided independent study 170
Total Study Hours200
Expected Total Study Hours for Module200

Type of Assessment Weighting % LOs covered Week due Length in Hours/Words
Essay 50 1-5 6 HOURS= 0, WORDS= 2500
Reflective Log 50 1-5 13 HOURS= 0, WORDS= 2500
Component 1 subtotal: 50
Component 2 subtotal: 50
Module subtotal: 100

Indicative References and Reading List - URL:
CLP10108 Crime in text & film