The Turn-of-the-Century's Backlash Against Melodramatic and Sensational Representations of Murder, 1880–1914
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Modern Murders is the first comprehensive study of murder representations during the turn of the century, drawing on previously neglected archival material to explore the intellectual, cultural, and artistic contexts of the period.
Most studies view the abundance of murder representations throughout the nineteenth century as an indicator of a supposedly typical Victorian appetite for sensation and melodrama. Modern Murders, however, demonstrates the turn of the century's backlash against melodramatic and sensational representations of murder and reads them as an important component in the struggles for better aesthetic standards in art and entertainment, and as a dominant feature in the debates on mass culture. Through a plethora of visual and written texts, representations of fictional and actual "real life" murders, and "high" and "popular" forms of writing, the volume considers the importance of murder in the elite claim to cultural authority versus its perception of plebian taste, in the context of the democratization of culture.
This book will be of value to scholars and graduate students in a variety of research areas, as well as general readers interested in the role of murder as a central trope in modern art and culture.
Table of Contents
Prologue: Knocking at the Gate of turn-of-the-century Modernity 1. Murder Overkill 2. Hilarious Homicides—Satirizing Sensational Murders 3. "Craving for Everything that is Impossible in London" 4. "The Actual Catastrophe": Representing Murder on the London Stage 5. A Working Class (Tragic) Hero is Something to Be 6. The Many Murders of Stephen Phillips, The Outdated Modernist Epilogue: The Big Bloodless Brawl Prior to the Big Blood Letting
Lee Michael-Berger is Head of the History Department at Beit-Berl College. Her research interests include modern British cultural history, theatre, and fin-de-siècle studies. Her article "Hilarious Homicides: Satirizing Sensational Murders in Turn of the Century London" was recently published in Journal of Victorian Culture.