Special Issue "The Victorian Art of Murder"

A special issue of Humanities (ISSN 2076-0787).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 May 2018).

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Neil McCaw
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of English, Creative Writing and American Studies, The University of Winchester, Sparkford Road, Winchester SO22 4NR, UK
Interests: Victorian literature and culture; Sherlock Holmes; crime and detective fiction; television and film adaptation

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The Victorian Art of Murder’ special edition of the Humanities journal will be an inter- and cross-disciplinary examination of the various facets of the Victorian fascination with murder. Looking at the range of nineteenth-century cultural forms, including (but certainly not limited to) popular and literary fictions, poetry and ballad, broadsides, historical writing, cultural commentary/critique, journalism, art, criminological and sociological discourse, the edition will offer an academic critical engagement with the broad cultural territory popularized in recent accessible studies of the topic that include Judith Flanders’s The Invention of Murder (2011) and Lucy Worsley’s A Very British Murder (2013). It is the intention thus to both capture the vivid array of Victorian engagements with grievous crime as well as, by -placing interdisciplinarity at the core of all the essays, significantly enhancing our understanding of the multi-faceted origins and development of this manifest cultural obsession.

Prof. Dr. Neil McCaw
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Humanities is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Victorian
  • murder
  • crime
  • literature
  • fiction
  • culture
  • broadsides
  • penny dreadful
  • Newgate
  • journalism

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

Article
Victorian Murder and the Digital Humanities
Humanities 2018, 7(3), 82; https://doi.org/10.3390/h7030082 - 12 Aug 2018
Viewed by 1505
Abstract
The rapid extension of what has become known as the Digital Humanities has resulted in an array of online resources for researchers within the subdiscipline of Victorian Studies. But the increasingly acquisitive nature of these digital projects poses the question as to what [...] Read more.
The rapid extension of what has become known as the Digital Humanities has resulted in an array of online resources for researchers within the subdiscipline of Victorian Studies. But the increasingly acquisitive nature of these digital projects poses the question as to what happens once all the information and material we have related to the Victorians has been archived? This paper is an attempt to anticipate this question with specific reference to future digital resources for the study of ‘Victorian murder culture’, and in particular, the essentially textual nature of the nineteenth-century experience of crime. It will argue that there is potential for new forms of digital-humanities archive that offer a more participatory user experience, one that nurtures a cognitively empathic understanding of the complex intertextuality of Victorian crime culture. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Victorian Art of Murder)
Article
‘Deeds of Darkness’: Thomas Hardy and Murder
Humanities 2018, 7(3), 66; https://doi.org/10.3390/h7030066 - 28 Jun 2018
Viewed by 1355
Abstract
Critics have often sought to place Thomas Hardy’s fiction within a realist generic framework, with a significant emphasis on Hardy’s Wessex settings, visual imagination and equation of sight with knowledge. Yet Hardy’s writings frequently disturb realist generic conventions by introducing elements from popular [...] Read more.
Critics have often sought to place Thomas Hardy’s fiction within a realist generic framework, with a significant emphasis on Hardy’s Wessex settings, visual imagination and equation of sight with knowledge. Yet Hardy’s writings frequently disturb realist generic conventions by introducing elements from popular nineteenth-century genres, particularly sensation fiction and the Gothic. This essay considers how murder as a plot device troubles generic boundaries in the novels Desperate Remedies (1871), Far from the Madding Crowd (1874) and Tess of the d’Urbervilles (1891). Set against backgrounds with significant non-realist elements, these texts view murder and its punishment from limited, distorted or averted perspectives that articulate a significant social and cultural critique. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Victorian Art of Murder)
Article
Animal Voices: Catherine Louisa Pirkis’ The Experiences of Loveday Brooke, Lady Detective and the Crimes of Animality
Humanities 2018, 7(3), 65; https://doi.org/10.3390/h7030065 - 26 Jun 2018
Viewed by 1504
Abstract
While previous readings of Catherine Louisa Pirkis’ series The Experiences of Loveday Brooke, Lady Detective (1894) have focused on Brooke’s status as New Woman detective, this article considers the series in the context of Pirkis’ own engagement with animal rights and anti-vivisection campaigns [...] Read more.
While previous readings of Catherine Louisa Pirkis’ series The Experiences of Loveday Brooke, Lady Detective (1894) have focused on Brooke’s status as New Woman detective, this article considers the series in the context of Pirkis’ own engagement with animal rights and anti-vivisection campaigns in the late nineteenth century. The discussion focuses on one Loveday Brooke story in particular, “The Murder at Troyte’s Hill,” arguing that Pirkis dramatises contemporary anti-vivisectionist rhetoric (that animal experimentation was not only scientifically flawed, but morally damaging, leading to human experimentation). Pirkis’ fiction instead presents a number of contact zones in which human and animal identities are renegotiated, most significantly in the figure of Loveday Brooke herself. The article considers the representation of comparative philology in the story, as an emerging linguistic science which raised anxieties of cultural dissolution and which was often associated with the image of the vivisector. It concludes that the Pirkis stories demonstrate, anticipating Derrida, that to write of the animal in the nineteenth century is inevitably to write about crime, and vice versa; the animal is a perpetual presence in Victorian detective fiction. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Victorian Art of Murder)
Article
On Waxworks Considered as One of the Hyperreal Arts: Exhibiting Jack the Ripper and His Victims
Humanities 2018, 7(2), 54; https://doi.org/10.3390/h7020054 - 30 May 2018
Viewed by 2060
Abstract
The article discusses one of the tropes present in the representations of the Whitechapel killer: the waxworks of either the killer or his victims. These images were shaped by contemporary attitudes: from sensationalism in 1888, through the developing myth and business of ‘Jack [...] Read more.
The article discusses one of the tropes present in the representations of the Whitechapel killer: the waxworks of either the killer or his victims. These images were shaped by contemporary attitudes: from sensationalism in 1888, through the developing myth and business of ‘Jack the Ripper,’ to the beginnings of attention being paid to his victims. Examined are tableaus created from 1888 to current times, both physical and fictional twenty- and twenty-first-century texts encompassing various media, all of which may be located within the Baudrillardian realm of simulation. What they demonstrate is that the mythical killer keeps overshadowing his victims, who in this part of the Ripper mythos remain to a certain extent as dehumanised and voiceless as when they were actually killed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Victorian Art of Murder)
Article
Exorcising a Demon?: Why History Needs to Engage with the Whitechapel Murders and Dispel the Myth of ‘Jack the Ripper’
Humanities 2018, 7(2), 52; https://doi.org/10.3390/h7020052 - 23 May 2018
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2240
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 [...] Read more.
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. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Victorian Art of Murder)
Article
‘Licking the Chops of Memory’: Plotting the Social Sins of Jekyll and Hyde
Humanities 2018, 7(2), 31; https://doi.org/10.3390/h7020031 - 28 Mar 2018
Viewed by 1943
Abstract
Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is hierarchical in its very title—alphabetically Hyde precedes Jekyll, but Jekyll’s superior education and culture are associated with social status whereas Hyde’s ‘Mr.’ is a courtesy title often hedged in with demonic or animalistic terms. But despite the [...] Read more.
Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is hierarchical in its very title—alphabetically Hyde precedes Jekyll, but Jekyll’s superior education and culture are associated with social status whereas Hyde’s ‘Mr.’ is a courtesy title often hedged in with demonic or animalistic terms. But despite the division insisted on in the title, Jekyll’s wilful complicity in the fate that overtakes him is suggested in a series of clues, ranging from his symbolic association with vivisection to the ostentatious exclusion of a female voice (typically the source of spiritual guidance or inspiration in Victorian fiction). As Hyde engages in an ascending scale of brutal acts, beginning with the assault of a child, the middle-class male peer group attempts to exculpate or protect Jekyll from association with this rebarbative and criminal figure. But following the murder of Sir Danvers Carew, the climactic discovery of Hyde’s body provides the final evidence against Jekyll himself—in rejecting the possibility of religious salvation, he has deliberately chosen the evil that his final statement presents as the ‘assault’ of an ungovernable temptation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Victorian Art of Murder)
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