Late modern ambiguity and gothic narratives of justice

Sothcott, Keir (2016) Late modern ambiguity and gothic narratives of justice. Critical Criminology, 24 (3) . pp. 431-444. ISSN 1205-8629 [Article] (doi:10.1007/s10612-015-9287-2)

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This paper examines how representations of criminal justice today are often framed by and narrated through a Gothic Imagination. Often this trend is considered a cultural support for Punitive Populism and demand for vindictive sanctions especially against ‘sensational’ offenders. Although such arguments have partial validity they do not fully account for the complexity of the contemporary, ‘Late Modern’ Gothic which is often invoked to actually justify criminal transgression. By discussing an episode from a recent popular TV drama series and how its narrative rhetoric plays upon audience sympathies, the paper argues that the contemporary Gothic Imagination is now often a source for subjective identification with rather than just against the ambiguous or that perceived as transcending cultural borders. This understanding questions the assumption of a uniformly punitive ‘public mind’ unable or unwilling to tolerate any form of criminal transgression and suggests that, in responding to popular demands, formal criminal justice interventions need not necessarily adopt a vindictive tone. The paper concludes that a Humanistic approach to understanding the Late Modern Gothic and other narrative modes for imagining criminal transgression can help reveal cultural complexities which are often overlooked by conventional models of criminological analysis.

Item Type: Article
Research Areas: A. > School of Law > Criminology and Sociology
Item ID: 23027
Notes on copyright: This is a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit version of an article published in Critical Criminology. The final publication is available at Springer via
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Depositing User: Keir Sothcott
Date Deposited: 24 Nov 2017 15:15
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2021 22:33

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