May 24, 2012

Nineteenth Century Novelists and Crime

Elizabeth Burney, University of Cambridge Institute of Criminology, has published Crime and Criminology in the Eye of the Novelist: Trends in Nineteenth Century Literature at 51 Howard Journal of Criminal Justice 160 (2012). Here is the abstract.

Many leading novelists of the 19th Century were deeply concerned with crime and its causes, reflecting concerns of the period and often raising ideas which find resonance with modern criminological theories. The structural causes of crime; the negative effect of ill‐treatment and harsh punishment; labelling theory; the possibility of redemption and desistance; the ingrained flaws in individual characters which result in a propensity to crime and deviance, enhanced by bad influences and criminogenic environments; the social pressures (labelled ‘strain theory’ by criminologists) which drive outsiders to gain wealth and status by illegitimate means – all these can be found in fiction of the period. This article takes examples from English, French and Russian literature to illustrate these themes. The article also links fiction to the development of perceptions about crime and criminals as the century progressed.
The full text is not available from SSRN. 

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