Education Programs: Enduring Questions: Pilot Course Grants

Period of Performance

5/1/2015 - 4/30/2018

Funding Totals

$21,507.00 (approved)
$21,506.84 (awarded)

NEH Enduring Questions Course on Definitions of the Criminal

FAIN: AQ-228955-15

University of New Hampshire (Durham, NH 03824-2620)
Katherine Gaudet (Project Director: September 2014 to October 2018)

The development and teaching of a new honors course for first- and second-year students on philosophical, legal, and literary perspectives on the criminal.

This course will form part of the UNH's University Honors Program new curriculum, which will be launched in 2014 or 2015. It will be one of four core courses on "Justice and Ethics," a cornerstone theme of the revised curriculum.

Media Coverage

What Is a Criminal?: New course helps Honors students think differently about crime and punishment (Media Coverage)
Author(s): Catherine M. Welter
Publication: University of New Hampshire Honors Program website
Date: 11/13/2017
Abstract: "Featured Course" article: "As the title itself suggests, 'What is a Criminal'” asks students to consider a question that philosophers, theologians, and legal scholars have been debating for centuries. In order to provide her students with a solid background in the history of criminality, Dr. Gaudet drew from a broad range of texts, including religious treatises on retaliation, forgiveness, and reformation; essays by Plato, Hobbes, and Rousseau on the formation of government and society; and 19th- and 20th-century texts about morality, discipline, and the human brain. While examining the theoretical underpinnings of America’s criminal justice system, students also read and analyzed fictional representations of crime and punishment, as well as a memoir about life in an American prison."

Associated Products

Syllabus: What Is a Criminal? (Course or Curricular Material)
Title: Syllabus: What Is a Criminal?
Author: Katherine Gaudet
Abstract: Criminals are people who break the law -- In theory. How do people become criminals (with regard to biological, cultural, and economic influences)? What happens to them in the criminal justice system, and how does the system shape the definition of "criminal"? We will also discuss "criminals of conscience" from Thoreau and Gandhi to Edward Snowden. The course will emphasize reading but will also engage with other media, including films, podcasts, and visual art.
Year: 2016
Audience: Undergraduate

What Is a Criminal? Answers from Inside the US Justice System (Book)
Title: What Is a Criminal? Answers from Inside the US Justice System
Editor: Katherine Gaudet
Abstract: Bringing together a collection of essays by writers with diverse knowledge of the US criminal justice system, from those with personal experience in prison and on patrol to scholarly researchers, What Is a Criminal? explores the category of "criminal" through the human stories of those who bear and administer that label. This book performs a rare feat in bringing together the perspectives of justice-impacted people, those who work in law enforcement and social services, and scholarly researchers. Each chapter is a compelling narrative sharing the experience and perspective of a unique person with knowledge of the justice system. The first section, "Incarceration, Reentry, and Rebuilding," gives a glimpse into the "black box" of prison, with firsthand accounts of daily life on the inside and the struggle to begin a new life after prison. Section 2, "Journeys in Law Enforcement," presents perspectives from police officers, school resource officers, and corrections officers who are working to better their communities. The third section, "Ripple Effects," addresses some of the broader impacts of the justice system, showing what it is like to be the child of an incarcerated parent, to be profiled, to be an undocumented immigrant, and to make art about the justice system. The final section, "Scholarly Perspectives," is comprised of accessible articles by academics who study law and crime. Each chapter stands alone as an individual story, but taken together they provide a uniquely nuanced view of the US justice system. This book will be of interest to anyone who wants to know more about criminality, the US justice system, and the people involved in it. It is designed for a general audience, with accessible, compelling stories that will appeal to a variety of readers.
Year: 2022
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: Author-created website including videos from previous lecture series. Includes table of contents and text of introduction.
Secondary URL:
Secondary URL Description: Publisher website
Publisher: Taylor and Francis
Type: Edited Volume
ISBN: 9780367770273

What Is a Criminal? Mass Incarceration in New Hampshire and the United States (Public Lecture or Presentation)
Title: What Is a Criminal? Mass Incarceration in New Hampshire and the United States
Abstract: “What Is a Criminal? Exploring Mass Incarceration in New Hampshire and the United States” was a series of seven events that took place in 2019-2020 at the University of New Hampshire. The series was organized by Katherine Gaudet, Alex Holznienkemper, Catherine Peebles, and Donna Perkins and funded by the Saul O Sidore Memorial Foundation, with support from the Center for the Humanities at the University of New Hampshire.
Author: Katherine Gaudet
Date: 09/17/2019
Location: University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: Videos and abstracts of each panel in the "What Is a Criminal?" lecture series