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Framing the Criminal

Crime, Cultural Work and the Loss of Critical Perspective, 1830-1900

By (author) David Ray Papke
Format: Hardback
Publisher: Shoe String Press Inc.,U.S., North Haven, United States
Published: 1st Jan 1987
Dimensions: w 230mm h 150mm d 21mm
Weight: 555g
ISBN-10: 0208021272
ISBN-13: 9780208021274
Barcode No: 9780208021274

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Kirkus US
An exploration of the changing image of the criminal in 19th-century America that takes the point of view that crime can be understood only in its social context. Papke (American Studies and Law/Indiana) cites the newspapers and magazines of the time to look into the attitudes toward real crimes (President Garfield's assassination), imagined crimes (Poe's detective fiction), as well as the attitudes of the police and the detectives themselves. In the early 19th century, crime reporting was effected via broadsheets and pamphlets. These were displaced by daily newspapers - "the penny dailies" - at mid-century. Newspapers such as the New York Herald found their circulation tripling during famed murder trials. The newspapers, Papke suggests, changed the "frame" in which Americans viewed criminals, concentrating on the felon-murderer type as opposed to the rogue-fiend type on which the pamphlets focused. Following upon the crime reporting of the tabloid press, there was a break. down of crime journalism into two types - mass crime journalism and bourgeois crime journalism, the latter epitomized by The New York Times. The author also reports on the "imagining" of crime in 19th-century fiction and the rise of the detective story and the crime thriller. These he sees as presenting criminals to middle-class and working-class readers in a non-threatening way, which helped to reinforce a normative social order. Unfortunately, while the subject is of interest, anyone who has ever tried to cut through thick rope with a dull blade will know what it is like to plow through Papke's prose. A state of comprehensibility is lacking because of this density. Strickly for those who need to know. (Kirkus Reviews)