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Humanities 2018, 7(2), 52; https://doi.org/10.3390/h7020052

Exorcising a Demon?: Why History Needs to Engage with the Whitechapel Murders and Dispel the Myth of ‘Jack the Ripper’

Department of History, University of Northampton, Northampton NN2 7AL, UK
Received: 18 April 2018 / Revised: 15 May 2018 / Accepted: 18 May 2018 / Published: 23 May 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Victorian Art of Murder)
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Abstract

This article reflects on the current paucity of academic research into the Whitechapel Murders of 1888. Notably it suggests that there has been a tendency for historians of crime in particular to ignore the case and it argues that this has created an unwanted vacuum that has been filled (and exploited) by amateur history and the entertainment industry. This has consequences for how the public view both the murders and the killer, and the entire late Victorian period. The cultural phenomenon of ‘Jack the Ripper’ has been allowed to emerge as a result of this lack of academic engagement and this fuels an industry that continues to portray the murderer, the murdered and the area in which these killings occurred in a manner that does a terrible and ongoing disservice to the women that were so brutally killed. Moreover, the ‘celebration’ of the unknown killer has provided a role model for subsequent misogynist serial murderers and abusers. This article argues that it is time for historians of crime address this situation. View Full-Text
Keywords: Jack the Ripper; Whitechapel Murders; murder; history; public history; misogyny; gender; Victorian; culture Jack the Ripper; Whitechapel Murders; murder; history; public history; misogyny; gender; Victorian; culture
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).
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Gray, D. Exorcising a Demon?: Why History Needs to Engage with the Whitechapel Murders and Dispel the Myth of ‘Jack the Ripper’. Humanities 2018, 7, 52.

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