Abstract

True crime has become entrenched within the sphere of popular culture. As entertainment and information true crime has captured, and held, the public imagination, maintaining a place in our societies (as demonstrated through the consumption of true crime) through successfully navigating shifts across format and focus. This article argues the disruption this instability generates is mitigated by the genre’s capacity to regularly reinvent itself in response to social changes. Offering three examples of successful print-based reinventions in England and America, this research highlights how such reinventions serve as watershed moments in the genre’s history, allowing true crime to maintain a prominent position within the landscape of popular culture. These examples are: impacts of an increased application of capital punishment in 1720s England; introduction of the investigator as standard for the true crime tale in 1800s England; and the widespread incorporation of literary techniques into true crime storytelling in 1960s America.

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