HIST 4945 The Birth of the Prison in Eighteenth Century Europe and America (HB) (HA-AS, HST-AS) (HEU)
Professor Rachel Weil
In medieval and renaissance Europe, criminals were fined, branded, or executed; after the 18th century, more of them went to jail. For some observers, the birth of the prison was a triumph of humanitarian compassion. For others, they marked an ominous new form of social control. In this course look at why and how prisons emerged during the 18th and early 19th centuries in Europe and America. What were prisons like, how did newfangled "Enlightenment" ideas about punishment and poverty affect penal reformers, how did the new prisons compare to other institutions of confinement (plague hospitals, mental asylums, bridewells), and how did prisoners exercise agency?