Romantic drama and the discourse of criminality

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Abstract

Romantic culture was fascinated with criminality, its occurrences, its deterrents, its consequences, and the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries witnessed a period of transition and change in the culture's attitudes about and responses to crime. Romantic-period audiences would no doubt see parallels between Elgiva and the contemporary Queen Caroline von Humboldt affair. As the political, industrial, and socio-religious revolutions of the period destabilized aristocratic power, generated population growth and urban migration, and fostered economic and spiritual meliorations, criminal activity soared. It was Romantic drama, that was the genre and the locus uniquely suited to the exposure and exploration of the discourses of criminality and to express the movement from public display to private attention. The bourgeois community increasingly identified the urban poor as a criminal class, and it sought support for the disciplining and management of criminals. Romantic drama made spectacles of crime and its consequences.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRomanticism
Subtitle of host publicationComparative Discourses
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Pages73-83
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9781351149839
ISBN (Print)9780815391593
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

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