Whoops, looks like I had a busy April and did not do a reading update. I'm still working my way through Sierra Crane Murdoch's Yellow Bird and Louise Erdrich's The Round House. Both of these books navigate the complicated and blurred lines between federal, state, and tribal jurisdictions and traditions. One is non-fiction and the … Continue reading What I’m Reading: May Update
Often the work of cultural -- or other kinds of -- analysis involves juxtaposing different phenomena or discourses that haven’t been compared in that way before. Sometimes just placing two things together will help illuminate something new about one or the other. This is because analysis relies on perspective, and perspective is impacted by context: … Continue reading The Mann Act, ‘White Slave Trade,’ and Cultural Construction of Race Through Criminal Codes
Earlier this week I included some references to the 1910 Mann Act (aka White Slave Traffic Act), so I thought it made sense to close the week with a quick review of that Act. The terms “white slavery” became prominent in the English language in the 19th century, and it was used by British and … Continue reading What is the Mann Act, exactly?
I’ve written about the importance of analyzing recent popular and fringe rhetoric about sex trafficking from a longer historical perspective, as well as from a cultural studies perspective, elsewhere. I’ve been contending here and elsewhere that the current cultural attention to organized sex trafficking,* along with the more absurd theories about Hillary Clinton’s “Pizzagate” ring, … Continue reading Criminalizing Race and Sex With Conspiracy Theories: Turn of the Century New York City and the so-called White Slave Trade
I just read a review of a new docu-series on HBO, Exterminate All the Brutes, which seems fitting for the discussion of this blog. The series takes a long and broad look at the ways "whiteness" has been shaped and enforced around the globe and in the modern age. More explicitly, the four-part series is … Continue reading Crime and Culture in the Much Bigger Picture: HBO’s ‘Exterminate All the Brutes’
I’m taking a turn down some adjacent Crime Fiction “noir” paths right now. I’ve been watching some “neo noir” American films, and reading some cultural theory around the noir genre. Last month, I watched a 1981 film that can be considered part of the American neo-noir trend of that period: Sharky’s Machine, directed by and … Continue reading American Neo-Noir and the Postcolonial Unconscious
This post is a little different from my usual “Making an Appeal” posts. Instead of pointing to a publication venue or organization that is circulating fresh and critical takes on crime and crime media, I want to single out a particular culture writer who is logging cultural criticism that is well-researched and attuned to the … Continue reading Making an Appeal: The critical crime and culture takes of Aja Romano
I’ve talked a bit about the style and content of the popular true crime comedy podcast, My Favorite Murder, launched in 2016 by Georgia Hardstark and Karen Kilgariff (see here, here, and here). The show is a significant milestone in the true crime economy. It re-circulates stories already established as true crime morbid worthy, and … Continue reading An Interview with an MFM Facebook Group Admin
If you watched Netflix’s Unbelievable, or read the non-fiction book, A False Report, then you’ve already encountered the work of The Marshall Project. Named for the civil rights lawyer and first African American to serve on the United States Supreme Court, The Marshall Project works “to elevate the criminal justice issue to one of national … Continue reading Making an Appeal: The Marshall Project
This blog uses the word “trope” a lot. Let’s pause for a bit to talk about what a trope is and does. In the knowledge fields of rhetoric and poetics, a trope refers to any device that performs a substitutive role. That means a trope is a kind of replacement: a word or phrase that … Continue reading Glossary: What is a trope, and what do tropes have to do with crime?