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Celebrating the Birth of Criminology while Understanding Today’s Views on Criminological Theory

Cazenovia College presents a series of four lectures commemorating the birth of criminology and the 100th anniversary of Charles Goring’s “The English Convict.”
Cazenovia, N.Y. – (August 27, 2013) - Always know who did it on the popular crime dramas on television? Know the answers before the last chapter of the newest police procedural at the bookstore? One hundred years ago Charles Goring set out to disprove that it was possible to identify who was a criminal and who was a law-abiding citizen by sight. Come share in the discussion as Cazenovia College presents a series of four lectures (Sept. 4, Sept. 18, Oct. 2 , and Oct. 16) celebrating the birth of criminology while commemorating the 100th anniversary of Charles Goring’s “The English Convict.”

According to Assistant Professor Clairissa Breen, Ph.D., director of Cazenovia College’s Criminal Justice and Homeland Security Studies Program, “In 1913, Charles Goring made history. After years of research, he disproved the reigning criminological theory of the time. He proved it was impossible to identify a criminal type based on what someone looked like. Now, in 2013, we wonder if it is possible to identify a criminal type before they are even born, based on the existence of genomes denoting a propensity to violence or low self-control or lack of inhibition.”

Mark your calendars and plan to attend one or all of the following lectures presented by Cazenovia College Assistant Professor Clairissa Breen, Ph.D.

Lecture 1 - Lombroso and the Origins of Criminal Identification
September 4, 2013, 6:30 - 8 pm
McDonald Lecture Hall, Eckel Hall, Lincklaen Street, Cazenovia, NY
On a dark and stormy night, a man – Cesare Lombroso – sits in his study contemplating the skull of a well-known, recently executed criminal. What he sees there revolutionizes the study of crime and criminal identification for decades. Join us for the story of the origins of criminology and the first attempt to identify what it is that separates criminals from the rest of the population.

Lecture 2 - Goring: “The English Convict”
September 18, 2013, 6:30 - 8 pm
McDonald Lecture Hall, Eckel Hall, Lincklaen Street, Cazenovia, NY
Imagine spending nearly every waking moment over a 4-year span attempting to disprove something that everyone believes to be true. If Charles Goring was wrong, he would have been a laughing stock, but he was right – Lombroso had been wrong from the beginning!  Join us to explore the research that changed criminological history and opened the doors for the variety of theories used to explain and respond to crime today.

Lecture 3 - The Legacy of Goring - 100 Years Later 
October 2, 2013, 6:30 - 8 pm
McDonald Lecture Hall, Eckel Hall, Lincklaen Street, Cazenovia, NY
What is the current state of criminological research? What are the theories and explanations that criminologists are currently using to understand criminals and criminality? Attend this lecture to take a closer look at the legacy of Charles Goring, understand the current state of criminological theory, and speculate on who are the criminals among us and why?

Lecture 4 - The Return of Lombroso? Predictive DNA and Criminal Identification
October 16, 2013, 6:30 - 8 pm
McDonald Lecture Hall, Eckel Hall, Lincklaen Street, Cazenovia, NY
One hundred years after his theory has been disproven by diligent research, Lombroso and his ideas are still with us. The desire that led Lombroso to present his ideas to the world, that hope that one could glance around a room and tell on sight the guilty from the innocent, is still with us. Join us for the final lecture in the series to assess where we are in the desire to identify who is a criminal and who isn’t … and whether Lombroso’s ideas of face value, may have some merit, just below the surface.


Cesare Lombroso is heralded throughout the criminological community as the father of criminology. His research, published throughout the late 1800s, was the definitive explanation of criminality of the day. The title may have better suited Charles Goring, who spent years definitively disproving Lombroso’s theory through intense biometric research, resulting in “The English Convict” published in 1913, four years after Lombroso’s death in 1909.  Today, we track criminals through fingerprint, mug shot and DNA databases, but at one time an individual’s arrest would have included measurements of the circumference of his or her head and the length of their arms. Criminologists would give lectures on identifying criminal types by facial features and physical characteristics – a norm preserved in the film Midnight Phantom (1935).

“Goring’s “The English Convict” is a remarkable work,” shares Dr. Breen. “The research behind it and what it means for modern criminology and criminal justice is something that should be celebrated and that is what we are doing at Cazenovia College this fall with this series of lectures, reintroducing this research and these historical individuals to the students and to the public.”

The Criminal Justice and Homeland Security Studies program at Cazenovia College provides students with the tools they need to enter into a career in the expanding field of law enforcement, the emerging area of homeland security, or to pursue a graduate degree or attend law school. The program has a rigorous curriculum taught by dedicated faculty uniquely qualified in their academic disciplines. The program is designed to educate students to be critical thinkers who communicate effectively, and who act in an ethical manner.  Visit http://www.cazenovia.edu/academics/divisions-and-majors/social-and-behavioral-sciences/criminal-justice-and-homeland-security for more information.

Cazenovia College, founded in 1824, is an independent, co-educational, baccalaureate college near Syracuse, N.Y., offering a comprehensive liberal arts education in an exceptional community environment, with academic and co-curricular programs devoted to developing leaders in their professional fields.  Cazenovia, named one of "America’s Best Colleges" by U.S. News & World Report, is also a national College of Distinction.  For more information, visit http://www.cazenovia.edu.

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