Crime and Culture in Early Modern Germany
Publication Year: 2012
With the growth of printing in early modern Germany, crime quickly became a subject of wide public discourse. Sensational crime reports, often featuring multiple murders within families, proliferated as authors probed horrific events for religious meaning. Coinciding with heightened witch panics and economic crisis, the spike in crime fears revealed a continuum between fears of the occult and more mundane dangers.
In Crime and Culture in Early Modern Germany, Joy Wiltenburg explores the beginnings of crime sensationalism from the early sixteenth century into the seventeenth century and beyond. Comparing the depictions of crime in popular publications with those in archival records, legal discourse, and imaginative literature, Wiltenburg highlights key social anxieties and analyzes how crime texts worked to shape public perceptions and mentalities. Reports regularly featured familial destruction, flawed economic relations, and the apocalyptic thinking of Protestant clergy. Wiltenburg examines how such literature expressed and shaped cultural attitudes while at the same time reinforcing governmental authority. She also shows how the emotional inflections of crime stories influenced the growth of early modern public discourse, so often conceived in terms of rational exchange of ideas.
Published by: University of Virginia Press
Title Page, Copyright
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Early modern discourses of crime do not have a simple, linear history. Instead, their development evokes a web, or even an ocean of shifting layers and currents. I have long enjoyed William Hesseltine’s comment that “writing intellectual history is like trying to nail jelly to...
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Page Count: 280
Illustrations: 12 b&w illus.
Publication Year: 2012
Series Title: Studies in Early Modern German History
Series Editor Byline: H. C. Erik Midelfort