Course Schedule

Note for Students in History 211

The following is the course schedule from the beginning of the term. It’s very likely that we will change it during the course of the term, but will not update the schedule here. Please consult Sakai for the official schedule.


This course examines the intersection between scandal, crime and spectacle in 19th-century France and Britain. We will discuss the nature of scandals, the connection between scandals and political change, and how scandals and ideas about crime were used to articulate new ideas about class, gender and sexuality. In addition, this class will cover the rise of new theories of criminality in the 19th century and the popular fascination with crime and violence. Crime and scandal also became interwoven into the fabric of the city as sources of urban spectacle. Lastly, we will have an opportunity to discuss how issues of crime, scandal and spectacle resonate in the 21st century. Some of the particular events and trends this class will cover include the Diamond Necklace Affair, the trial of Oscar Wilde, the Jack the Ripper murders, and the birth of detective fiction.

Through this course, students will be introduced to text analysis and data mining for the humanities. This course assumes no prior knowledge of these skills, but asks: how can newly developed technologies that allow computers to “read” large quantities of text shed light on the past? Students will work in groups throughout the course of the term to complete a digital history project that analyzes an element of the 19th century fascination with crime and scandal.


Week 1

Week 2

  • Scandal and Monarchy, Part I
  • Scandal and Monarchy, Part II
    • Tamara Hunt, “Morality and Monarchy in the Queen Caroline Affair”
    • Find two articles dating from the Queen Caroline Affair in the 19th Century British Newspapers Collection
    • Close Reading in this book
  • First Paper Due: Analysis of a Scandal

Week 3

Week 4

  • Crime and the City
    • Louis Chevalier, Working Classes, Dangerous Classes, selections
    • Henry Mayhew, The London Underworld, selections
  • Female Criminality
    • Lisa Downing, “Murder in the Feminine: Marie Lafarge and the Sexualization of the Nineteenth-Century Criminal Woman”
    • Cesare Lombroso, Criminal Woman, the Prostitute and the Normal Woman, selections
    • Digital Archives in this book
  • Second Paper Due: Analysis of a Nineteeth-Century Archive

Week 5

  • Detection in the 19th Century
    • Simon Cole, Suspect Identities, Chapters 1 and 2
  • The Rise of Detective Fiction
    • Michael Saler, “’Clap if You Believe in Sherlock Holmes’: Mass Culture and the Re-Enchantment of Modernity, c. 1890-1940”
    • Arthur Conan Doyle, “A Scandal in Bohemia
    • Data Cleaning in this book

Week 6

  • Violence and Entertainment, Part I
  • Violence and Entertainment, Part II
  • Final Group Project Proposals Due

Week 7

  • The Spectacle of the City, Part I
    • Vanessa Schwartz, Spectacular Realities, Chapter 1
  • The Spectacle of the City, Part II
    • Vanessa Schwartz, Spectacular Realities, Chapters 2 and 3
    • Reading at Scale in this book

Week 8

  • Sex and the City
    • Judith Walkowitz, “Male Vice and Feminist Virtue: Feminism and the Politics of Prostitution in Nineteenth-Century Britain”
    • W.T. Stead, “The Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon”
  • Sex and Death in the City
  • Annotated Bibliography Due

Week 9

Week 10

Week 11

Week 12

  • Class Presentations

  • Wrap-Up and Class Presentations

Exam Week

  • Final Project and Process Paper Due