Murder Most Foul: The Killer and the American Gothic Imagination / Edition 1

Murder Most Foul: The Killer and the American Gothic Imagination / Edition 1

by Karen Halttunen
     
 

ISBN-10: 0674003845

ISBN-13: 9780674003842

Pub. Date: 09/01/2000

Publisher: Harvard

Confronting murder in the newspaper, on screen, and in sensational trials, we often feel the killer is fundamentally incomprehensible and morally alien. But this was not always the popular response to murder. In Murder Most Foul, Karen Halttunen explores the changing view of murder from early New England sermons read at the public execution of murderers,

…  See more details below

Overview

Confronting murder in the newspaper, on screen, and in sensational trials, we often feel the killer is fundamentally incomprehensible and morally alien. But this was not always the popular response to murder. In Murder Most Foul, Karen Halttunen explores the changing view of murder from early New England sermons read at the public execution of murderers, through the nineteenth century, when secular and sensational accounts replaced the sacred treatment of the crime, to today's true crime literature and tabloid reports.

The early narratives were shaped by a strong belief in original sin and spiritual redemption, by the idea that all murders were natural manifestations of the innate depravity of humankind. In a dramatic departure from that view, the Gothic imagination--with its central conventions of the fundamental horror and mystery of the crime--seized upon the murderer as a moral monster, separated from the normal majority by an impassable gulf. Halttunen shows how this perception helped shape the modern response to criminal transgression, mandating criminal incarceration, and informing a social-scientific model of criminal deviance.

The Gothic expression of horror and inhumanity is the predominant response to radical evil today; it has provided a set of conventions surrounding tales of murder that appear to be natural and instinctive, when in fact they are rooted in the nineteenth century. Halttunen's penetrating insight into her extraordinary treasure trove of creepy popular crime literature reveals how our stories have failed to make sense of the killer and how that failure has constrained our understanding and treatment of criminality today.

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780674003842
Publisher:
Harvard
Publication date:
09/01/2000
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
338
Product dimensions:
5.62(w) x 8.68(h) x (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction

1. The Murderer as Common Sinner

2. The Birth of Horror

3. The Pornography of Violence

4. The Construction of Murder as Mystery

5. Murder in the Family Circle

6. Murdering Medusa

7. The Murderer as Mental Alien

Epilogue

Notes

Index

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >