Tag Archives: Crime Punishment and Popular Culture 1790-1920

Race & Gender in the Carceral State

By Jen Manion
Jen Manion, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of History and Director of the LGBTQ Resource Center at Connecticut College. Manion is author of Liberty’s Prisoners: Carceral Culture in Early America (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015) and co-editor of Taking Back the Academy: History of Activism, History as Activism (Routledge, 2004). Jen has also published essays in Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, Journal of the Early Republic, TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly, and Radical History Review. 

Crime, Punishment, and Popular Culture, 1790-1920 is a trove of material for scholars and students interested in the history of gender, gender expression, and sexuality. Criminal accounts provide an illustrative window into the culture of the time by highlighting the lives, actions, and motives of those who crossed the line of so-called acceptable behavior. Women’s participation in illicit activities such as theft, robbery, assault, or murder were generally sensationalized in both trial and newspaper records, giving such accounts a sexual tinge no matter how seemingly mundane. The range of source material—from newspaper accounts to trial manuscripts to organizational records to sensational dime novels—allows readers to approach a singular topic from different perspectives. Historians can examine the treatment of people along lines of race, class, and gender, or chart changes in such regulations over time. Continue reading

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‘The compartment was much bespattered with blood’: the Brighton Railway Murder

Barely a week went by in the nineteenth-century press without a sensational crime story appearing. Whether it was the gory prospect of blood and dismembered bodies, or simply the thrill of a classic ‘whodunit’, there can be little doubt that crime reporting made compelling copy. This was certainly the case with the ‘Brighton Railway Murder’ which took place in the summer of 1881. From beginning to end, the case captivated the imagination of the British people, eager to discover who had murdered wealthy tradesman Frederick Gold, and what would become of the culprit. A search of Gale Artemis: Primary Sources highlights the case’s notoriety, giving me the perfect opportunity to trace its development.     Continue reading

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Victorian Secrets: Crime, Punishment, and Popular Culture, 1790-1920

By Dr Lucy Jane Sussex
Honorary Associate, La Trobe University and Honorary Associate, Federation University

The term ‘Victorian values’ reappears every now and then in twenty-first century media. Usually, it is politically charged, signifying a nostalgia for better days, to be found in the long nineteenth century (1790-1914). Here be, like dragons, the virtues of hard work, morality, piety, and none of this new-fangled debauchery. Continue reading

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The Whitechapel Murders: exploring Jack the Ripper’s victims in the Crime, Punishment, and Popular Culture archive

Towards the end of the nineteenth century, the East End of London was terrorised by a series of gruesome murders at the hands of the notorious ‘Jack the Ripper’. Ripper’s true identity was never discovered, and even though nearly 125 years have passed since his last attack his name still sends a shiver down the spine. Continue reading