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Dissected, torn, and exposed: The Death and Remains of the Jack the Ripper victims in the Illustrated Police News

Binfield-Smith, Rosie ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9624-1578 (2023) Dissected, torn, and exposed: The Death and Remains of the Jack the Ripper victims in the Illustrated Police News. In: Coleclough, Sharon, Michael-Fox, Bethan and Visser, Renske, (eds.) Difficult Death, Dying and the Dead in Media and Culture. London, Palgrave Macmillan

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Jack the Ripper haunts the public imagination. Despite his anonymity, the ‘Whitechapel Monster’ has an impressive media and cultural legacy, and has received substantial popular, and academic, attention since the murders in the late nineteenth century. By contrast, his five victims Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes, and Mary Jane Kelly, have received minimal attention (Rubenhold 2019). Through a discourse and visual analysis of The Illustrated Police News, this chapter puts the victims’ bodies at its core and explores the challenging ways in which, after death, their ‘difficult’ remains were illustrated. Taking a visual criminological approach, the chapter argues that media representations doubly victimised the women and reinforced their liminality. Not only were they ‘lured to the slaughter’ by Jack the Ripper, but their bodies were dissected and laid bare by the media (Penfold-Mounce, 2016; Sappol, 2002). Using archival data, it is argued that the characterisation of the women is representative of the disposability and objectification of marginalised bodies during the nineteenth century, and how after death their violated bodies became objects for consumption and moral scrutiny by a public gaze, that relegated the women and their identities into a state of silence.

Item Type: Book Section
Status: Published
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-40732-1_14
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
School/Department: York Business School
URI: https://ray.yorksj.ac.uk/id/eprint/8808

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