Apprehending the Criminal

The Production of Deviance in Nineteenth Century Discourse

Apprehending the Criminal

Post-Contemporary Interventions

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Book Pages: 288 Illustrations: 8 tables Published: August 1992

Cultural Studies, Literature and Literary Studies > Literary Theory

In this wide-ranging analysis, Marie-Christine Leps traces the production and circulation of knowledge about the criminal in nineteenth-century discourse, and shows how the delineation of deviance served to construct cultural norms. She demonstrates how the apprehension of crime and criminals was an important factor in the establishment of such key institutions as national systems of education, a cheap daily press, and various welfare measures designed to fight the spread of criminality.
Leps focuses on three discursive practices: the emergence of criminology, the development of a mass-produced press, and the proliferation of crime fiction, in both England and France. Beginning where Foucault's work Discipline and Punish ends, Leps analyzes intertextual modes of knowledge production and shows how the elaboration of hegemonic truths about the criminal is related to the exercise of power.
The scope of her investigation includes scientific treatises such as Criminal Man by Cesare Lombroso and The English Convict by Charles Goring, reports on the Jack the Ripper murders in The Times and Le Petit Parisien, the Sherlock Holmes stories, Stevenson's Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and novels by Zola and Bourget.


Apprehending the Criminal is a work of substance and sophistication, drawing on an extensive range of historical materials (from France and from England) as well as an impressive array of theoretical analyses, ranging from the historical epistemology of Bachelard and Foucault, to more recent work in discourse analysis and intertextuality.”
— David Garland , British Journal of Criminology

“The strength of this book is Leps’s analysis of such seemingly diverse texts as press accounts of the Jack the Ripper murders, Emile Zola’s La bete humaine, and the Sherlock Holmes stories.” — George Robb , Victorian Studies

"Apprehending the Criminal can stand comparison with Foucault's own work. . . . It is a major and original contribution to historical discourse analysis." — Timothy J. Reiss, New York University

"Discourse analysis is now practiced by many scholars around the world, but I know of no study as complete and as persuasive as this one." — Wlad Godzich, University of Geneva


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