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Lois PresserLois Presser

Ph.D. 2002 University of Cincinnati

The University of Tennessee
912 McClung Tower
Knoxville, TN 37996-0490

Phone: (865) 974-7024
Curriculum Vitae

Interest Areas

Criminological Theory, Narrative Criminology, Harm, Violence, Restorative Justice

Lois Presser is Professor of Sociology at the University of Tennessee. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Human Development and Family Studies from Cornell University, an MBA from Yale University, and a doctoral degree in Criminal Justice/Criminology from the University of Cincinnati. Prior to earning her Ph.D., Dr. Presser worked for 10 years in the criminal justice system in New York City. She worked with and on behalf of both offenders and victims of crime.

Dr. Presser's research concerns the role of language and discursive forms in social arrangements and action, including criminal action, and the promises and problems of restorative justice approaches to crime and other conflicts. She draws on the perspectives of cultural sociology and critical criminology in her work. Dr. Presser's publications have appeared in top journals of criminology and sociology including Theoretical Criminology, Social Problems, Justice Quarterly, and Signs. Her first book, Been a Heavy Life: Stories of Violent Men (2008, University of Illinois Press), explores how violent men construct themselves as decent, heroic, and masculine in the face of stigma and under circumstances of captivity. Her second book, Why We Harm (2013, Rutgers University Press), advances a general theory of harmful action based on the stories we tell. With Sveinung Sandberg she presents the perspective known as narrative criminology in the edited volume, Narrative Criminology (2015, NYU Press). Dr. Presser is currently at work on a new project that explores the role of stories in atrocity crimes and other mass violence.


  • Criminal Justice
  • Criminology
  • Gender and Crime
  • Juvenile Delinquency
  • Restorative Justice (Honors)
  • Society and Law
  • Sociological Research


  • Contemporary Criminologies
  • Discourse Analysis
  • Foundations in Criminology
  • 2015.  Presser, Lois, and Sveinung Sandberg (Eds.).  Narrative Criminology.  New York: New York University Press.
  • 2014.  Rahim Manji, Presser, Lois, and Leigh T. Dickey .  "Passivity, Harm, and Injustice."  Contemporary Justice Review 17(1):47-62.
  • 2013.  Presser, LoisWhy We Harm.  New Brunswick, NJ and London: Rutgers University Press. 
  • 2013.  Presser, Lois, and Jennifer Schally.  "Institutionalizing Harm in Tennessee: The Right of the People to Hunt and Fish."  Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare XL(4): 169-184.
  • 2013.  Presser, Lois.  "Narrative Criminology."  In Oxford Bibliographies in Criminology, edited by Richard Wright.  New York: Oxford University Press.
  • 2012. Presser, Lois. "Getting on Top Through Mass Murder: Narrative, Metaphor, and Violence." Crime, Media, Culture 8(1): 3-21.

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