Murders, Monsters, and Mysteries: Contemporary American True Crime
DozentIn: Liana Paznikova
Ort: 11/115: Do. 10:00 - 12:00 (11x), 01/214: Do. 10:00 - 12:00 (1x)
Zeiten: Do. 10:00 - 12:00 (wöchentlich), Ort: 11/115, 01/214
Beschreibung: “In the 1970s and 1980s the true-crime literary genre rose to prominence and became the
dominant form of nonfiction murder narration in America,” writes Jean Murley in _The
Rise of True Crime_ (2008). Since then, the genre has continued to evolve across a
variety of media, such as blogs, documentaries, YouTube videos, and podcasts.
Currently it is going through a renaissance, set off by the rising popularity of podcasts
and documentaries proliferating through streaming services. Given this development, an
investigation of the circumstances of true crime’s evolution is warranted.
In this course, we will explore the formation of the true crime genre in the US roughly
over the last four decades. We will focus on critical analysis of influential texts of the
genre and place them in their respective social, cultural, and historical contexts. Our goal
is to investigate the construction of crime, the criminal, and the criminal justice system
in true crime texts. An important part of this investigation will be the culture of
punishment in the US. Furthermore, we will engage with secondary literature to provide
a critical lens through which we could view and examine primary texts. We will attempt
to answer the following central questions: When and how did the true crime genre
assume its current form? Which social, cultural, and historical forces shaped and
continue to shape the genre?
Our primary text will be _The Stranger Beside Me_ (1980) by Ann Rule. Due to this
book’s enduring popularity as well as its influence on the true crime genre, _Stranger_ is
suitable as one of the starting points for our analysis. Furthermore, we will engage with other texts (podcasts, documentaries).
Please purchase a copy of _The Stranger Beside Me_ (ISBN-13 : 978-0751578096 ) and start reading it.
Please note that in addition to reading primary texts, you will need to read scholarly
texts and engage with the material through a critical lens.
Please also note that some of the material read and discussed in the course deals with
different types and degrees of violence. If you feel unable to engage with any particular
topic, you can let me know outside of the classroom and we will find a way to work