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“For apart from inquiry, apart from the praxis, individuals cannot be truly human. Knowledge emerges only through invention and re-invention, through the restless, impatient, continuing, hopeful inquiry human beings pursue in the world, with the world, and with each other.” 
― Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed

pedagogy: Text
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University of Toronto St. George
Summer 20212022

Fall 2021, 2022

This course will examine how Western society has gone about controlling people and practices considered ‘deviant’ throughout history. Engaging with foundational theoretical texts, ethnographical and archival work, literature, and film, we will study processes of criminalization and punishment as colonial, race-making, and gendered historical projects – from settler colonialism, the Atlantic Slave trade, early 20th-century urbanization, and the Cold War, to contemporary policies of mass incarceration, policing, and the War on Drugs. We will also uncover how people across time have not been passive victims of state control, but instead have actively resisted criminalization and created possibilities for survival and joy beyond the margins of the law.

pedagogy: About



Probably one of the best professors I have ever had in my past three years at U of T. Prof Otto does a fantastic job delivering extremely interesting and stimulating course material with the outline she created out of academic passion. Additionally, she is incredibly respectful and understanding of all her students every week. Genuinely a pleasure to take a course from her.


SUPER AMAZING. Professor Otto made use a multiple methods of teaching to help us learn and retain our knowledge. Weekly recorded lecturettes to watch on our own time, live discussion sessions with review of week's materials (lecturettes and readings), she always posted the slides for us to take notes on and the post–lecture slides for us to review, she also incorporated weekly participation portfolio based on the weekly readings, and the assignments included 2 creative media analysis group projects (with the option to complete solo or in partners/trios) was super fun and helped us engage deeply with the concepts we learned in class, as well as 2 written essay analyses of a documentary and of a film. Prof Otto gave us the chance to participate if we'd like in class, first through a weekly check–in, how is everyone feeling, what did we think of the readings and lecturettes, and if we have any questions or concerns and most importantly she made the classroom a safe environment for us to be honest with her about where we are at with our assignments, whether we are behind with watching the lecturettes or readings. And she gives us positive encouragement and her understanding. And motivates us to get caught up with more exciting interesting content! Love her!! Amazing amazing prof and course format. She's super passionate about her teaching, her content, her research, her students and their learning!


Professor Otto did an excellent job designing this course and I really enjoyed it. I admire her casual and conversational pedagogical approach. She's very knowledgeable, humourous, and a really engaging and charismatic prof overall. It's clear that she carefully selected the readings in the syllabus, and although they're quite dense, she does a great job of summarizing the texts and sociological theories which is helpful as some of them are written in a level of language that is less accessible/more difficult to understand (e.g. Foucault). I think she really drills in the foundational concepts by reverting back to them and drawing connections to them throughout the course repeatedly. Her way of teaching is very narrative, thorough, well–structured, and well–argued. The content she chose for us to analyze was also very interesting, such as the newspaper articles and the Moonlight film. I only have positive things to say about this class and I wish I had taken it when it was delivered in person. However, I must say that Professor Otto has really fine tuned it well as a online–summer term course and things ran smoothly from start to finish despite the various unexpected things that came up.


Incredible. Professor Natalia puts a lot of effort into the lectures and live meetings. She also puts a lot of effort into making the course easy for the students. Her teaching is very student–centered, which helps me stay motivated to learn and engage with the material. This has been one of my favorite courses I have taken at UofT (and I finished my 3rd year already) and it is because of the content but also because of the way it is taught. I'm so grateful for Professor Natalia.


"SOC313 is by far one of the best courses I've ever taken at UofT. The material was incredibly interesting. Natalia Otto is a fantastic lecturer, and probably the best I have had in my four years at UofT. Though some of the material we studied was sometimes heavy, she managed to contextualize it in an eloquent, seamless and concise way. Her lectures were very well constructed, with consistent opportunities to go over previous material and time for questions. The assignments we were given were probably some of the most interesting I've ever had to do. They were extremely engaging, and improved my understanding of key concepts."


"Professor Otto is the sweetest and most engaging professor ever. She genuinely cares about the well being and mental health of her students and this really motivates the class to learn and engage deeply in the course content. She is very passionate and this reflects in how she inspires all the students."


"Natalia is an incredibly generous and understanding professor. She goes above and beyond to help students in need and provide them with the information necessary. She took time to speak with 4th years about grad school and moving past undergrad, answered all of our questions and eased our nerves. She's also incredibly understanding of the workload we have as students and deadlines, but still is stern – she is very well balanced and we all appreciated her as a professor."


The professor is one of the best I ever meet in the Uoft. // Natalia was very personable and taught things in an informative and easy–to–understand manner. I learned much from it without it feeling like a great burden. // Professor was always willing to give students accommodations if necessary. All I had to do was reach out to her if I had an issue and she was extremely flexible and helped me make sure I could hand in work that was done to the best of my ability.


Natalia is a well spoken instructor who seems to genuinely care about the quality of the material she prepares for lecture. I found Natalia really is passionate about the subject she teaches which makes for an entertaining and informative class.


The course content was extremely interesting, original, and pertinent to real–life situations, and the professor was very engaging in their delivery! They effectively managed to break down and explain concepts that would have been otherwise considered quite difficult to understand (i.e. Foucault), and I highly appreciated their enthusiasm in doing so because it motivated my decisions to come to class (rather than just treat the course as another set of assignments). Additionally, I enjoyed the course assignments we were given, particularly the media projects which were especially conducive to my learning due to their non–standard format and were a welcome deviation from traditional essays.


I am very satisfied with the ample support I received from the professor themselves. The professor was very cooperative and empathetic when it came to students' needs, and so it made for a much more enjoyable and effective course because we were not constantly under pressure nor learning in a non–friendly environment. They were always happy to answer our academic–related questions as well as receptive to our concerns regarding the course's structure, which enabled us as students to always be fully aware of what exactly was expected of us. The professor went as far as offering extraneous support of her own volition, such as in the form of answering questions pertaining to graduate school. All in all, it become quite evident that the professor truly wish to support their students and ensure their success.


Lectures were very interesting and eye–opening. The atmosphere was welcoming to discussions and the instructor always respected our ideas. /// The professor connected the course material to real life historical events – very passionate teaching.


"Natalia was clearly very passionate and knowledgeable about the course material and this generated a lot of interest and excitement for learning in the course– this was definitely an achievement because I was busy working full–time and taking another course throughout the duration of the class. The readings were always very captivating and contributed to my understanding of general themes in social control."


"Professor Otto was an amazing instructor who clearly has a deep knowledge of the course material and also cares about her students. Our assignments were super interesting, creative, and challenging. The readings were the same – a great mix of new and old works and her synthesis and way of teaching us about the concepts of the course was awesome."


"Natalia was very accommodating– she adapted according to student feedback and allowed for some rolling deadlines/extensions to account for the speed of the summer session. Further, Natalia held checkins at the beginning of class– she clearly cares for her students' learning experiences."

pedagogy: Publications



Drugs in the Modern World
Classical Social Theory
Sociology of Law 

Youth Justice


Crime and Organizations

Domestic Violence

Gender, Crime and Justice

Sociology of Crime


Classical Sociology

pedagogy: Courses
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