Common Criminals- C19 (Chapel Hill, March 13-16, 2014)

full name / name of organization: 
Jon Blandford, Bellarmine University

Common Criminals

Nineteenth-century U.S. print culture is replete with sensational accounts of crime: from the lurid coverage of real-life cases in the penny press to the popular fictions of authors such as Edgar Allan Poe and George Lippard. In her influential study _Murder Most Foul_, Karen Halttunen argues that this body of literature emphasized the exceptional status of violent criminals, portraying them as monstrously and unknowably other. This panel seeks 15-20 minute papers that push back against this critical paradigm for the C19 conference on "Commons," to be held at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, March 13-16, 2014. To what extent do criminals and their crimes get associated during this period not just with the exceptional or sensational, but with the everyday, the ordinary, the commonplace? How might thinking about the representation of "common criminals" reorient our understanding of the ways in which nineteenth-century Americans imagined crime? Possible topics might include (but are not limited to)

- Boundary-blurring between criminals and the public at large
- Criminals as a collective
- Anxieties about the "mob"
- Lesser, non-violent offenses
- Crime examined from a statistical or demographic perspective

By September 1, please email 250-300 word abstract and a short biographical statement (including contact information) to Jon Blandford, Bellarmine University, For information about the C19 organization and its third biennial conference, see and