HBO's Social Science Fiction

Examining "The Wire” and the Crisis of American Institutions

January Term 2014

"No one wins. One side just loses more slowly." – Prez


Unlike any work of popular culture or real-life documentary, HBO's fictional television series "The Wire" faithfully exposes the tragedies of institutional failure and urban poverty in the forgotten America. By viewing and discussing the entire series, students will gain a comprehensive and unique understanding of the "war on drugs," daily operations of gangs, overloaded prison systems, political corruption, disappearing blue-collar employment, and savage inequalities of the education system. Complemented by accessible and gripping academic texts, this course uncovers the complexities of the causes of urban crime and poverty, motivating students to seek out new and innovative solutions for social change.

Course Details

  • What: Sociology and Anthropology (S/A-108-001)
  • When: January 6 - 31, 2014
  • Time: Monday - Thursday, 12:30 - 3:00 p.m. and Friday, 12:30 - 2:30 p.m.
  • Who should sign up: All are welcome, regardless of familiarity with "The Wire." Students who have never even heard of the series but are interested in learning more about the causes and consequences of urban poverty, crime, and inequality are especially encouraged to enroll.
  • Who should not sign up: "The Wire" is rated TV-MA and features violence, drug use, foul language, and sexual content. Those who are offended by these mature topics might not want to take this class.

Jeffrey Seymour, PhD

Visiting Assistant Professor of Sociology