In the Theater of Criminal Justice
The Palais de Justice in Second Empire Paris. Princeton Series in 19th Century Art, Culture, and Society
Focusing on a sensational 1869 murder trial and on the newly designed wing of the Palais de Justice in which it was held, Katherine Taylor explores the representation of criminal justice in Second Empire Paris. She considers the performative aspect of the trial on its new stage and shows how the controversially ornate design of the courtroom created a heightened sense of theatricality for participants and spectators alike, exacerbating conflicting notions about the theory and practice of criminal justice. The tension caused by the blending of the inquisitorial procedure of the ancien regime with an accusatorial one in the modern criminal courtroom expressed a larger conflict concerning sources and types of authority, their styles, and their bases for judging evidence--a conflict played out in the representation of authority in many public buildings of the post-Revolutionary era.
This work treats the relationship between judicial and political doctrine and social practice in cultural terms, particularly those of architecture, art, and theater. It offers a unique type of architectural history by interpreting a building through its use and users; it differs from most historical studies of trials by concentrating on the stakes of visual representation.
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What Reviewers Are Saying
In this handsomely produced volume, Katherine Fischer Taylor presents a cultural history of the new Palais de Justice, which was completed in 1868 and was the site of some of the capital's most dramatic criminal trials during the Third Republic.--American Historical Review "A stunning and significant contribution to a broad history of narratives of power and resistance in the nineteenth century."--Jann Matlock, Art Bulletin Winner of the Spiro Kostof Book Award in Architecture and Urbanism