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“Such a Poor Finish”

Illegitimacy, Murder, and War Veterans in England, 1918–1923

Ginger S. Frost

Historians usually analyze changing gender constructions in the criminal courts after World War I through cases involving men and women. Using a different analytical lens this article explores two well-publicized murder trials involving war veterans and illegitimate children, one of a soldier who murdered his wife’s daughter from an adulterous affair and one who killed his own son. Although notions of masculinity had changed, the police, courts, and Home Office used traditional factors to assess punishments, including the degree of provocation, the behavior of the women involved, and the issue of deterrence. The press, however, was more sympathetic to the veterans, regarding them as victims of circumstances, much like women who committed infanticide. This new presentation did not succeed with the Home Office, especially as the war moved further into the past. By 1925, men’s war service had less influence on punishment than Victorian ideas of gender and criminal responsibility.

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Joel Blatt

Gayle K. Brunelle and Annette Finley-Croswhite, Murder in the Metro: Laetitia Toureaux and the Cagoule in 1930s France (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2010).

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Aaron Petten

Karla Oeler, A Grammar of Murder: Violent Scenes and Film Form

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Angela Aujla

Mythili, Rajiva, and Sheila Batacharya, eds. 2010. Reena Virk: Critical Perspectives on a Canadian Murder. Toronto: Canadian Scholars Press Inc.

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Steve Jones

Both the slasher movie and its more recent counterpart the “torture porn“ film centralize graphic depictions of violence. This article inspects the nature of these portrayals by examining a motif commonly found in the cinema of homicide, dubbed here the “pure moment of murder“: that is, the moment in which two characters' bodies adjoin onscreen in an instance of graphic violence. By exploring a number of these incidents (and their various modes of representation) in American horror films ranging from Psycho (1960) to Saw VI (2009), the article aims to expound how these images of slaughter demonstrate (albeit in an augmented, hyperbolic manner) a number of long-standing problems surrounding selfhood that continue to fuel philosophical discussion. The article argues that the visual adjoining of victim and killer onscreen echoes the conundrum that in order to attain identity, the individual requires and yet simultaneously repudiates the Other.

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Beyond Murder

Jeremy Schonfield

The book of Esther, a popular tale of group loyalty in the face of hostility, is read on Purim, the spring-time carnival feast of revelry, fancy-dress, role reversal, charity and drinking. The purpose of this paper is to ask whether the book would be as popular if we thought carefully about its depiction of Jewish relations with host cultures. Should we discount this as an historical curiosity? Or is it essential to what the book and the feast have to offer?

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Jeremy Ekberg

Because Sartre's theatre is one of representation and authenticity, plays like The Victors offer Sartrean philosophical explorations of subjects pushed to the limits of existence by torture and oppressive social edicts. It is in extreme situations that a subject most clearly exercises or fails to exercise his freedom and therefore his authenticity. But Sartre's interest in a complete explication of this process wanes before he fully outlines his project of self formation, which leaves the present paper to prove: (1) the unattainability of any final or permanent authenticity, since each subject represents itself alternately in authentic and inauthentic ways and because the representations of a single subject are constantly in flux; (2) the primacy of representation as the force by which the self is formed and authenticity achieved or avoided; and (3) the criteria for the assessment of authenticity levels and how these processes come to light in plays like The Victors.

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'Murdered at the Breast'

Maternal Violence and the Self-Made Man in Popular Victorian Culture

Andrew Mangham

Motherhood, for the Victorians, was seen not just as an organic phase of womanhood, but a responsibility that required a constant system of behavioural actions or inactions to make it a success rather than a danger. In this essay, I explore mid-nineteenth-century formulations of maternity through the ‘work’ of two women: Mary Ann Brough and Mary Elizabeth Braddon. Both women played a significant role within the era’s popular culture. In 1854, Brough notoriously cut the throats of six of her children, killing them all, and then attempted suicide by cutting her own.1 From 1862 until her death in 1915, Braddon was one of Britain’s most popular and prolific novelists. Through analysis of the correlations and inconsistencies between non-fictional reactions to the crimes of Mary Brough and representations of dangerous maternities in the early fiction of Mary Braddon, this piece aims to explore the period’s biological and social ideas of motherhood in relation to emerging ideas on male professionalism and class mobility.

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The Discourse of 'Ritual Murder'

Popular Reaction to Political Leaders in Botswana

Ørnulf Gulbrandsen

In re-engaging the classic theme of sorcery and witchcraft in African anthropology, it is asserted that something new is happening in terms of the manifestation and magnitude of the phenomena that are commonly included in these notions.1 Geschiere, for one, claims that ‘nearly everywhere on the continent the state and politics seem to be true breeding grounds for modern transformations of witchcraft and sorcery’ (1999: 6). And Jean and John Comaroff (1999) speak of escalations of what they label ‘occult economies’ in postapartheid South Africa, escalations they also trace in other parts of the world, including the West and the post-communist East.

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A Tale of the Murdered Shtetl

The Image of the Shtetl in Yiddish Literature in Post-war Poland

Magdalena Ruta

This article discusses an ambivalent portrayal of the shtetl presented in the prose works of five Yiddish writers who were creatively active in the communist Poland: Leyb Olitsky, Mendel Tempel, Shlomo Strauss-Marko, Lili Berger and Kalman Segal. The theme of the shtetl is of a particular importance in Yiddish literature of that time since it makes it possible to realize how difficult Yiddish writers' situation was under communism in the post-Holocaust era. The literary image of shtetl in their prose works is conditioned by two contrasting perspectives: ideological critique and a sense of loss. In comparison to the classic texts there is a substantial shift – the continuity of the shtetl life with the cycle of the holy history of the Jewish people is interrupted, and religion is substituted – at least ostensibly – by the ideology of communism. The writers criticize the traditional way of life, known as Yiddishkayt, the mentality associated with it, as well as the crisis of the moral value system. Nonetheless, as if in opposition to communist literary critics, all of them unanimously emphasize the values of the Jewish world that are worth remembering, such as the language, folklore, customs and traditions, and also domestic religious rituals, and even certain aspects of religion.