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Here you will find several resources detailing the history and development of the true crime genre. Both popular and academic, the sources listed here will provide a well-rounded explanation of the genre and its place in popular culture.
True Crime as a Genre
The Rise of True Crime by
Jean Murley’s full-length book provides an in-depth, well-researched account of the development of the true crime genre. While technically an academic source, Murley’s work is written in accessible language and contains captivating examples. Her book would be useful to anyone seeking a thorough examination of the genre, rather than details of specific crimes. While it addresses the formation of the genre, this source also argues that the way we tell true crime often reveals more about our societal values than it does about the hard facts of the crime itself. Check out this book for a thought-provoking consideration of true crime as a genre. Click the title to be redirected to this title on Amazon.
True Crime: The Origins of Modern Sensationalism by
This is the most academic resource in this guide, but it makes excellent points about the way true crime has been presented throughout its development and how that relates to the form it takes today. The author’s primary argument is that much of true crime programming can be characterized as sensationalism – emotionally charged media explicitly designed to suck the viewer in. The article offers several examples of sensationalism in modern true crime programs, like the inclusion of graphic crime scene photos, audio clips of 911 calls, and the emotional testimonies of victims’ friends and family on television programs. Thus, this source may be of interest to those who are wondering about the way true crime stories are told and why. Click the title to be redirected to the article.
Women & True Crime
Several recent studies have shown that women make up the majority of the audience for true crime media – this includes books, television programming, and podcasts. The following two resources are both studies that attempt to explain women’s growing interest in the genre.
Captured by True Crime: Why Are Women Drawn to Tales of Rape, Murder, and Serial Killers?
By Amanda Vicary and Chris Fraley
This research study investigated gender differences among readers of true crime books. The results revealed that when presented with a selection of books on violent topics, women not only significantly preferred the true crime option, but believed that they would enjoy the book much more than the men who selected the same title reported. Though the quantitative study aspects are quite academic, the discussion section presents an accessible account of the results and the potential reasons that women might have a preference for true crime. Overall, this resource will be most useful for those who are seeking to read something evidence-based rather than casual or entertaining. Click the title to be redirected to the article.
Dystopian Romance: True Crime and the Female Reader
By Laura Browder
Laura Browder’s qualitative study is presented in a narrative format and presents her findings in a discussion-based, accessible format. She begins by discussing her poll of several bookstores reported that women make up nearly three-fourths of true crime readers, and goes on to conduct phone interviews with several women and then hypothesize about their interest in true crime. She comes to several conclusions about the genre’s role, including that its appeal may be similar to horror movies or that it may be cathartic for some readers. This resource would be most useful for those who are looking for a nuanced discussion of women’s interest in true crime. Click the title to be redirected to the article.