Radical Pedagogy (2013)
Volume 10 Issue 1
“Open” and “Concealed” Dramaturgics: A Pedagogical Paradigmatic Strategy for
Conveying an Eyewitness Account of the Lethal Account of the Lethal Injection
Process to College Undergraduates
Over the course
of the past decade, there has been a substantial increase in the introduction
of death penalty courses into college curricula across the United States.
Teaching such a course is both exciting and challenging, and presents faculty
with the opportunity to broach the topic from any number of academic angles.
Furthermore, capital punishment is a controversial and provocative social issue
in the university classroom, inviting the inclusion of creative educational
strategies to effectively communicate the eventuality of the sanction. This
article presents a working pedagogical approach by which the modern American
execution is illustrated and relived in the undergraduate sociology classroom –
this is accomplished via the author’s eyewitness account of a lethal injection
procedure, framed theoretically by the paradigm of dramaturgy. Lofland’s ‘open’
versus ‘concealed’ dramaturgics, or strategies of performance, are also applied
and discussed. Upon the introduction of the experiential into the classroom
setting, students are not only compelled to realize the actuality of an
otherwise abstract, detached event, but are also exposed to the human, visceral
component of viewing death.
Keywords: capital punishment,
dramaturgics, Lofland, pedagogy