About this page

This blog houses work of first-year students at Duke University enrolled in three sections of Academic Writing 20 — True(?) Crime: (De)Composing Forensic Investigation. Starting in early November, students worked collaboratively on this piece, which was the course’s second major writing project. They were tasked with analyzing David Owen’s book Hidden Evidence: 50 True Crimes and How Forensic Science Helped Solve Them (2009, 2nd edition) in light of our shared scholarly readings about true crime and forensic science narratives. Each pair of writers selected a chapter from Owen’s text for close reading. Here, in posts of 1500-2000 words, they discuss the textual and visual rhetoric of the book, drawing on course readings for contrast and support. Since this was a graded project at the end of the semester, you might notice some differently colored text at various moments within the blogs. These are areas where student writers are being told they need some further revision/refining.

Click the link below to read posts related to the selected chapters from Owen’s text:
Chapter 4:   Pure Poison
Chapter 5:   Knives & Blunt Instruments
Chapter 6:   Strangulation & Suffocation
Chapter 7:   Drowning & Burning
Chapter 8:   The Smoking Gun
Chapter 9:   Fire & Explosives
Chapter 10: Frauds & Forgeries
Chapter 13: Blood
Chapter 14: DNA: The Ultimate Identifier?

We want to acknowledge the assistance given to this project and this course by Amy Hendrix of Duke University’s Center for Instructional Technology; Drs. Holly Ryan and Vicki Russell and the staff of the Writing Studio; Undergraduate Writing Tutors Lauren Lei and Taylor Hausburg; Duke Librarians Kelley Lawton and Danette Pachtner; and Thompson Writing Center Faculty Dr. Seth Dowland and Dr. Christine Erlien.

Thank you for visiting! While you’re around, check out the sites created for other Writing 20 courses:

Dr. Jules Odendahl-James

Our page’s header image was cropped from “Pink Bathroom,” a photo by Corinne May Botz from her photo essay, The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death. The Nutshell Studies is a series of forensic dioramas created in the 1930s and 1940s by heiress and self-taught forensic investigator Frances Glessner Lee (1878-1962). For CSI fans, Glessner Lee’s work was the inspiration behind Season 7’s “miniature killer” story arc. A new documentary, Of Dolls and Murder, about Glessner Lee and the “Studies” is in post-production.

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