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The Devil's Daughters: Criminology and The Female Offender in Historical Crime Fiction

The Devil's Daughters: Criminology and The Female Offender in Historical Crime Fiction
The Devil's Daughters: Criminology and The Female Offender in Historical Crime Fiction
This PhD thesis consists of two sections, each supported by a bibliography. The critical commentary reflects on the research and writing process I embarked upon for my doctoral novel and how I drew upon criminological theory and research to inform it. Also examined is how contemporary writers of crime fiction might best use the resources offered by criminological research. I chose to write a historical rather than contemporary novel about criminology to explore the influence that historical ideas about crime might have on the way we perceive it today; to examine, challenge and critique dominant nineteenth-century theories about the female offender and their present day legacy, specifically by creating strong female characters including plausible female villains and basing my characterization on the history and theory of criminology; and to look at the beginnings of the modern ‘scientific’ approach to crime, as typified by one of my central real life characters, the ‘father’ of modern criminology, Cesare Lombroso (1835-1909). My intention was to use Lombroso’s second major study, La Donna Deliquente (or Criminal Woman) with a view to considering how criminology can be used in writing crime fiction. Drawing on relevant examples from both criminological literature and fiction, the critical commentary begins by discussing Lombroso’s ideas together with the scientific and cultural context of those ideas and their legacy and their influence on my writing of the novel. Lombroso’s work and that of his contemporaries is then further explored through the representations of the female offender in nineteenth-century fiction and historical crime fiction set in the period that I drew on when researching the novel. The writing of The Devil’s Daughters is then examined, focusing on the roles of its female characters and how criminological theories informed my own creative process. I conclude by discussing examples of criminological theories that have featured in contemporary crime fiction and making suggestions of how they might be drawn on in the future, thus enriching both forms. The Devil’s Daughters, my doctoral novel, set in Turin in 1888, is a historical crime thriller that describes an investigation into a series of murders of young women. I introduce the work of Cesare Lombroso and his assistant Salvatore Ottolenghi (also a character in the novel), and make extensive use of Lombroso’s work in framing the story including quotations at the beginning of each chapter. As well as a young Scottish hero, there are several strong female characters who play dominant roles in the narrative, either as detectives or perpetrators thus challenging late nineteenth century attitudes towards female offenders.
University of Southampton
Bretherick, Diana
e37e9eb8-548a-42ea-9f01-5119bdf08e45
Bretherick, Diana
e37e9eb8-548a-42ea-9f01-5119bdf08e45
Middleton, Peter
9f64f346-a05f-4e54-bbf4-600c87a2b237
Smith, Rebecca
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Bretherick, Diana (2017) The Devil's Daughters: Criminology and The Female Offender in Historical Crime Fiction. University of Southampton, Doctoral Thesis, 411pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

This PhD thesis consists of two sections, each supported by a bibliography. The critical commentary reflects on the research and writing process I embarked upon for my doctoral novel and how I drew upon criminological theory and research to inform it. Also examined is how contemporary writers of crime fiction might best use the resources offered by criminological research. I chose to write a historical rather than contemporary novel about criminology to explore the influence that historical ideas about crime might have on the way we perceive it today; to examine, challenge and critique dominant nineteenth-century theories about the female offender and their present day legacy, specifically by creating strong female characters including plausible female villains and basing my characterization on the history and theory of criminology; and to look at the beginnings of the modern ‘scientific’ approach to crime, as typified by one of my central real life characters, the ‘father’ of modern criminology, Cesare Lombroso (1835-1909). My intention was to use Lombroso’s second major study, La Donna Deliquente (or Criminal Woman) with a view to considering how criminology can be used in writing crime fiction. Drawing on relevant examples from both criminological literature and fiction, the critical commentary begins by discussing Lombroso’s ideas together with the scientific and cultural context of those ideas and their legacy and their influence on my writing of the novel. Lombroso’s work and that of his contemporaries is then further explored through the representations of the female offender in nineteenth-century fiction and historical crime fiction set in the period that I drew on when researching the novel. The writing of The Devil’s Daughters is then examined, focusing on the roles of its female characters and how criminological theories informed my own creative process. I conclude by discussing examples of criminological theories that have featured in contemporary crime fiction and making suggestions of how they might be drawn on in the future, thus enriching both forms. The Devil’s Daughters, my doctoral novel, set in Turin in 1888, is a historical crime thriller that describes an investigation into a series of murders of young women. I introduce the work of Cesare Lombroso and his assistant Salvatore Ottolenghi (also a character in the novel), and make extensive use of Lombroso’s work in framing the story including quotations at the beginning of each chapter. As well as a young Scottish hero, there are several strong female characters who play dominant roles in the narrative, either as detectives or perpetrators thus challenging late nineteenth century attitudes towards female offenders.

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Published date: January 2017

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 415840
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/415840
PURE UUID: 857d5351-9a72-41dd-a180-55f0a3537389

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Date deposited: 24 Nov 2017 17:30
Last modified: 13 Mar 2019 19:15

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