Books

Coming in 2021 from McFarland.

Media and the Murderer: Jack the Ripper, Steven Avery and an Enduring Formula for Notoriety

Some criminals become household names, while others–even those who seek recognition through their crimes–are forgotten. The criminal’s actions are only a part of every famous true crime story. Other factors, such as the setting and circumstances of the crimes and the ways in which others take control of the narrative, ultimately drive their notoriety. Through a comparison of the tellings and retellings of two famous cases more than a century apart–the Jack the Ripper killings in 1888, and the murder trials of Steven Avery as documented in Making a Murderer–this book examines the complicated dynamics of criminal celebrity.

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Words of a Monster: Analyzing the Writings of H.H. Holmes, America’s First Serial Killer

Decades before the term “serial killer” was coined, H.H. Holmes murdered dozens of people in his now-infamous Chicago “Murder Castle.”

In his autobiography, Holmes struggled to define himself in the language of the late nineteenth century. As the “first”–or, as he labeled himself, “The Greatest Criminal of the Age”–he had no one to compare himself to, and no ready-made biographical structure to follow. Holmes was thus nearly able to invent himself from scratch.

This book minutely inspects how Holmes represented himself in his writings and confessions. Although the legitimacy of Holmes’ accounts have been called into question, his biography mirrors the narrative structure of the true crime genre that emerged decades after his death.

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The Ripper’s Victims in Print: The Rhetoric of Portrayals Since 1929

Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Katherine Eddowes and Mary Jane Kelly–the five known victims of Jack the Ripper–are among the most written-about women in history. Hundreds of books on the Ripper murders describe their deaths in detail. Yet they themselves remain as mysterious as their murderer.

This first ever study of the victims surveys the Ripper literature to reveal what is known about their lives, how society viewed them at the time of their deaths, and how attitudes and perceptions of them have (or have not) changed since the Victorian era.

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