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

NCJ Number
D R Papke
Date Published
273 pages
Drawing from the journalism, fiction, and memoirs of the 19th century, primarily 1830-1900, this book explores the changing image of the criminal in America during this period.
A review of newspapers such as 'The National Police Gazette' (1845) and 'The World' (1897) shows how journalists reported murders and portrayed such criminals as Langdon W. Moore and the assassin Guiteau. An examination of the antebellum press, the detective story, the serial thriller, and the fiction of Edgar Allan Poe and George Lippard indicates how fictional crimes and criminals were portrayed. The views of police, detectives, and offenders are reviewed to determine how they viewed the crimes in which they were involved. The commentary on 19th century writings notes a gradual loss of critical perspective on crime after a brief period in the antebellum years. The critical period linked crime and politics and drew conclusions from the linkages. Later, as modern society stabilized, writings lost a concern about crime's political meanings and consequences. The book argues that crime and criminals must not be viewed uncritically as absolute phenomena, but rather as dynamic social and political phenomena 'framed' by the values and perspectives of a given society in a given period. 63 notes, 360-item bibliography, and subject index.


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