Faculty of Arts

Monash University

Undergraduate - Unit

This unit entry is for students who completed this unit in 2012 only. For students planning to study the unit, please refer to the unit indexes in the the current edition of the Handbook. If you have any queries contact the managing faculty for your course or area of study.

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6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered, or view unit timetables.

FacultyFaculty of Arts
OfferedNot offered in 2012
Coordinator(s)Dr Ernest Koh


For most of the 20th century, the exploits of gangsters, ranging from Dillinger to the Yakuza to the Green Gang of Shanghai, have been constantly re-imagined in books, music, film, and television. Gangsters are usually portrayed as romantic figures, rogues resisting the intrusive state. That gangsters have been an integral part of modern history is not in doubt. But apart from being romantic figures, what do gangsters actually do, and why are they celebrated? Are their interactions with the state only defined by resistance? Drawing on sources including film and literature,this unit traces the modern story of gangsters and their unique relationships with their respective states and societies.


On successful completion of this unit, students will:

  1. Have a deep understanding of the history of twentieth century organised crime and gangsterism
  2. Understand the complex nature of gangsters' relationships with states and societies
  3. Recognise the historical and contemporary contexts in which gangsterism emerges and flourishes
  4. Understand the relationship between the romanticisation of gangsters and the state of society
  5. Develop the capacity to analyse the meaning of popular sources such as film
  6. Become familiar with the research skills and methods of social and cultural historians
  7. Have further developed their oral and written communication skills
  8. Have experience working with a range of textual, visual, and material historical sources


Film analysis (500 words): 15%
Essay (2,500 words): 40%
Take home essay (1,500 words): 35%
Tutorial participation: 10%

Chief examiner(s)

Dr Ernest Koh

Contact hours

- One 1-hour lecture per week
- One 1-hour tutorial per week

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study

International studies


First year sequence in HSY, INT, CRI, or permission