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Title:Criminal Representation and the Construction of Middle-Class Subjectivity, 1823-1844
Author(s):Kessinger, Kurt Rayburn
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Garrett, P.,
Department / Program:English
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Literature, English
Abstract:Using The Times's coverage of the Thurtell-Hunt murder case of 1823-24 as a point of departure, this dissertation explores how the English middle class used the criminal as a site of self-representation--especially masculine self-representation--during the 1820s, 30s and 40s. Between the late Regency and mid-Victorian periods, the figure of the criminal became a prominent site of ideological struggle, pitting the middle class against both the lower classes and the aristocracy.
In Chapter One, The Times's coverage of the Thurtell's trial and execution is used to establish how melodramatic representations of criminality were sites of an ideological conflict over what constituted proper masculine behavior. Chapter Two examines in more depth melodramatic renditions of criminality, and concludes by showing how Oliver Twist reveals the contradictions that occur when a traditional formal convention of criminal representation undergoes middle-class appropriation. Chapter Three draws on newspaper coverage of Henry Fauntleroy's trial and execution for embezzlement, as well as Bulwer's and Dickens's fictional "white-collar" criminals, to illustrate how the transformations the figure of the rogue underwent during the early nineteenth century express the middle-class male's attempt to redefine masculine subjectivity. Chapter Four focuses on the attack on bloodsports by journalists and novelists as a largely unsuccessful attempt to supersede traditional aristocratic masculine attitudes towards violence. Finally, Chapter Five discusses masculine self-definition through the feminine by detailing the how the English legal system and authors represented maternal infanticide.
Issue Date:1993
Description:381 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1993.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI9329081
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-16
Date Deposited:1993

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