Do crime stories tell us more about crime than about other aspects of life and culture?

Datum der Erstellung
Beitrags ID:
Sandra Vacca
Hochschule / Institution
Durham University
Art der Arbeit
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ich die Lizenz: CC BY-NC-ND


It has been argued that „History begins where justice ends… criminal records… reveal about otherwise invisible or opaque realms of human experience.“1 When the trial is over, and completed, it’s the task of Historians to study the ensemble of the reports and to do a new investigation – on the investigation. The large variety of documents emanating from crime stories forms a rich source. Criminal records, witnesses‘ testimonies, the accused’s defences and letters, the newspapers reports, are different media referring to a single case, and bringing diverse angles of study. But we can wonder if crime stories are interesting for themselves, as reconstruction of one’s life, or if they help decrypting the meaning and goal of a crime. Do they also help Historians reach larger conclusions, about life and culture for instance? In this essay, we will see explore how the study of crime stories can be a form of microhistory, and what kind of information they can reveal to the criminology specialist. We’ll then analyse to what extent crime stories inform us about the context in which they take place, and how the historian proceeds to draw his conclusions.