Murder Made in Italy: Homicide, Media, and Contemporary Italian Culture

Murder Made in Italy: Homicide, Media, and Contemporary Italian Culture

Murder Made in Italy: Homicide, Media, and Contemporary Italian Culture

Murder Made in Italy: Homicide, Media, and Contemporary Italian Culture

Synopsis

Looking at media coverage of three very prominent murder cases, Murder Made in Italy explores the cultural issues raised by the murders and how they reflect developments in Italian civil society over the past 20 years. Providing detailed descriptions of each murder, investigation, and court case, Ellen Nerenberg addresses the perception of lawlessness in Italy, the country's geography of crime, and the generalized fear for public safety among the Italian population. Nerenberg examines the fictional and nonfictional representations of these crimes through the lenses of moral panic, media spectacle, true crime writing, and the abject body. The worldwide publicity given the recent case of Amanda Knox, the American student tried for murder in a Perugia court, once more drew attention to crime and punishment in Italy and is the subject of the epilogue.

Excerpt

In some ways, Murder Made in Italy is two books in one. One of these— not the “first” in terms of priority—is a narrative destined for an audience of readers who are interested in media studies, crime studies, and studies in popular culture and whose interest in contemporary Italy is not necessarily characterized by great familiarity with Italian culture or the Italian justice system. The other book—but not the “second”—seeks to contribute to an evolving discussion in contemporary Italian cultural studies staged largely among scholars of Italian studies. All readers, I imagine, will read parts of the narrative. At the same time, I doubt all readers will turn to the notes. Neither of the books stands independent from the other, and my goal has been to bridge, not to shore up, the differences between them. Achieving the required balance between the two texts has constituted one of my toughest challenges as a scholar and one that has brought some of the most satisfying rewards.

In her study on sex, gender, and science published in 2000, Sexing the Body, Anne Fausto-Sterling made shrewd choices concerning how much of her technical discussion to leave in the text and what to present in the extensive and finely detailed notes. I have adopted a similar strategy. In the main, Fausto-Sterling’s choices concerned the sort and amount of scientific discourse to maintain in the text. The decisions I made, on the other hand, concerned the presence of critical theory and theoreticians and how much to rely on readers’ knowledge of, say, Italian regional geography, anthropology, and cultural history. I hope to have made wise choices between the sometimes competing needs of different readerships.

Given the nature of the academy, one’s progress and success (tenure, retention, promotion) depend on advancing academic arguments and . . .

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