Richard Quinney

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Richard Quinney (born 1934) is an American sociologist, writer, and photographer known for his philosophical and critical approach to crime and social justice. After earning his PhD in sociology from the University of Wisconsin, he taught at several universities on the East Coast and in the Midwest. He was awarded the Edwin Sutherland Award in 1984 by the American Society of Criminology for his contributions to criminological theory. He is currently professor emeritus of sociology at Northern Illinois University.

Quinney is also the author of several books that combine photography with autobiographical writing. Recently he founded the independent press Borderland Books in Madison, Wisconsin. In addition to Quinney's works, the press publishes books by other notable Wisconsin authors such as Roy Chapman Andrews, Glenway Wescott, and August Derleth.


Books—memoir, natural history, and photography[edit]

  • Journey to a Far Place, Temple University Press, 1991.
  • For the Time Being, State University Press of New York, 1998.
  • Borderland: A Midwest Journal, University of Wisconsin Press, 2001.
  • Where Yet the Sweet Birds Sing, Borderland Books, 2006.
  • Once Again the Wonder, Borderland Books, 2006.
  • Of Time and Place, Borderland Books, 2006.
  • "Tales from the Middle Border, Borderland Books, 2007
  • Things Once Seen, Borderland Books, 2008
  • Field Notes, Borderland Books, 2008
  • "A Lifetime Burning," Borderland Books, 2010
  • "Once Upon an Island," Borderland Books, 2011
  • "A Farm in Wisconsin," Borderland Books, 2012
  • "Ox Herding in Wisconsin," Borderland Books, 2013

Books—academic sociology[edit]

  • Criminal Behavior Systems, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1967.
  • The Problem of Crime, Dodd, Mead, 1970.
  • The Social Reality of Crime, Little, Brown, 1974.
  • Critique of Legal Order, Little, Brown, 1974.
  • Criminology, Little, Brown, 1975.
  • Class, State, and Crime, Longman, 1977.
  • Providence, Longman, 1980.
  • Social Existence, Sage, 1982.
  • Criminology as Peacemaking, Indiana University Press, 1991.
  • Erich Fromm and Critical Criminology, University of Illinois Press, 2000.
  • Bearing Witness to Crime and Social Justice, SUNY Press, 2000.
  • Storytelling Sociology, Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2004.


1934 Born May 16, Elkhorn, Wisconsin, to Alice Holloway Quinney, rural schoolteacher, and Floyd Quinney, third-generation farmer on the family farm in Walworth County.

1956 Bachelor's degree in sociology and biology from Carroll College (Wisconsin).

1957 Master's degree in sociology from Northwestern University.

1957–1962 Graduate work in rural sociology, anthropology, and sociology at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. PhD degree awarded in 1962.

1958 Marriage to Valerie Yow, fellow graduate student at the University of Wisconsin.

1959 Birth of daughter Laura Ellen in Madison, Wisconsin.

1960–1998 Faculty positions—from instructor to full professor—in sociology departments at St. Lawrence University, University of Kentucky, New York University, City University of New York, Boston College, and Northern Illinois University.

1962–1983 Influenced by the books Walden, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, Tao Te Ching, Sand County Almanac, Spoon River Anthology, The Myth of Sisyphus, God's Country and My People, The Land of Little Rain, Waiting for Godot, The Dhammapada, Stop-Time, A River Runs through It, The Bhagavad Gita, The Zen of Seeing, Markings, A Fortunate Man, Journal of Solitude, The Daybooks of Edward Weston, Narrow Road to the Deep North, The Land Remembers, Mornings in Mexico, The Great Gatsby, North Toward Home, The Miracle of Mindfulness, A Moveable Feast, The Inman Diary, Four Quartets, The Voyage of the Beagle, All the Strange Hours, O Pioneers!, As I Lay Dying, The Odyssey, and So Long, See You Tomorrow.

1965–1971 Move to New York City, and living in Greenwich Village. Teaching at New York University.

1967–present Books and journal articles are published in the academic fields of sociology and criminology, including the books Criminal Behavior Systems, The Social Reality of Crime, Critique of Legal Order, Providence, Social Existence, Criminology as Peacemaking, Bearing Witness to Crime and Social Justice, and Storytelling Sociology.

1968–1970 Enrollment in photography courses in extension education at New York University taught by Sandra Weiner and Cornell Capra. Photographs of the construction of the World Trade Center. First photograph published in the photography magazine Infinity. Participation in the civil rights and anti-war movements.

1970 Birth of daughter Anne Holloway in New York City. Summer spent in Madison after death of father on the farm in 1969.

1971–1974 Sabbatical leave, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

1972–present Beginning of a series of guest lectures at universities that include University of Minnesota, University of North Carolina, Florida State University, North Carolina State University, University of Montana, University of Groningen, University of Windsor, University of Nebraska, American University, University of Nevada, Gettysburg College, University of Florida, Pennsylvania State University, University of Georgia, University of Missouri, San Diego State University, Marquette University, Western Michigan University, and Indiana University.

1973–present Exhibition of photographs in solo exhibits and group shows, most recently solo exhibits at the Steenbock Gallery of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters, and the Ploch Art Gallery at the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts. Exhibit of photographs at the biannual PhotoMidwest juried exhibition at the Porter Butts Gallery at the University of Wisconsin Memorial Union, and at the James Watrous Gallery in the Overture Center for the Arts.

1974–1982 Move to Providence, Rhode Island. Teaching at Brooklyn College, Boston University, and Boston College.

1977–present Manuscripts and photographs are archived at the Wisconsin Historical Society.

1983 Return to the Midwest, accepting a professorship at Northern Illinois University.

1983–2000 Photographs along the roads and byways of DeKalb County.

1985 Delegate, Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Tour, People's Republic of China, Eisenhower Foundation.

1986 Fulbright Visiting Lecturer, National University of Ireland, Galway.

1990–2007 Writing and publication of several autobiographical and ethnographic books with photographs: Journey to a Far Place, For the Time Being, Borderland, Where Yet the Sweet Birds Sing, Once Again the Wonder, Of Time and Place, and Tales from the Middle Border.

1991 Marriage to Solveig Schavland Holmes, DeKalb, Illinois.

1992 Starts photographing with medium format camera.

1993 Canterbury Visiting Fellowship, University of Canterbury, New Zealand.

1998 Retirement from Northern Illinois University.

1999 Preservation of the family farm, with brother Ralph, following the practices of a sustainable agriculture. Death of mother.

2000 Treatments begin for chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

2001. Move to Madison, Wisconsin.

2003 Photographs the ruins and artifacts at the farm.

2005 Founding of the independent press Borderland Books for the publication of literary and craft quality books.

2005–2006 Member of the Madison Sesquicentennial photography project, organized by the Center for Photography at Madison, culminating in the exhibition “Madison at 150.”

2008 Publication of a 40-year retrospective of photographing, Things Once Seen. The book received the August Derleth Award for non-fiction.

Writing and publication of books, 2008 to 2013: Field Notes, A Lifetime Burning, Once Upon an Island, A Farm in Wisconsin, and Ox Herding in Wisconsin.


  • Encyclopædia Britannica. "Richard Quinney." (2008) Encyclopædia Britannica Online. <>.
  • Martin, R., Mutchnick, R.J., Austin, W., (1990) Criminological Thought: Pioneers Past and Present. New York: Macmillan, 379–404.
  • Mobley, A.; Pepinsky, H.; Terry, C. (2002). "Exploring the paradox of the (un)reality of Richard Quinney's criminology". Crime & Delinquency. 48 (2): 316–332. doi:10.1177/0011128702048002008. 
  • "Richard Quinney on the transformation of self and others: an interview," (2006) Contemporary Justice Review 9: 277–282
  • Schaefer, D. (2008). "A review of Richard Quinney: Post retirement". Crime, Media, Culture. 4 (2): 294–303. doi:10.1177/1741659008097301. 
  • Shelden, R. (2002). "Bearing Witness to Richard Quinney". Contemporary Justice Review. 5 (4): 403–405. doi:10.1080/10282580214778. 
  • Sullivan, D. (1989). "Richard Quinney: An Interview". The Critical Criminologist. 1: 11–14. 
  • Sullivan, D. (2010). "The things a man once saw (and was): An appreciation of Richard Quinney". Contemporary Justice Review. 13: 321–330. doi:10.1080/10282580.2010.498243. 
  • Tifft, L. (2002). "Crime and peace: a walk with Richard Quinney". Crime & Delinquency. 48 (2): 243–63. doi:10.1177/0011128702048002004. 
  • Trevino, A.J. (1989). "Richard Quinney: a Wisconsin sociologist". Wisconsin Sociologist. 26 (4): 126–34. 
  • Wozniak, J.F. (2002). "Toward a theoretical model of peacemaking criminology: an essay in honor of Richard Quinney". Crime & Delinquency. 48 (2): 204–31. doi:10.1177/0011128702048002002. 

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