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Course Description
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Jack the Ripper's London: Myth, Reality and the Victorian Metropolis
University of Westminster
London, England

Subject Area(s) Level(s) Instruction in Credits Contact Hours Prerequisites
History 200 English 4 50 N/A

During the 1880s, in the East End of Victorian London, a killer stalked the streets. He committed some of the worst murders in the history of the capital, yet he was never caught.  For this reason, Jack the Ripper has captured the popular imagination more than any other urban serial killer. Yet the Ripper myth, whether in film (most recently, From Hell) or in a multitude of popular books, has been accompanied by representations of the Victorian capital which throw little light onto the real social and economic conditions of late Victorian London.  Using contemporary sources, such as the Poverty Maps of Charles Booth, newspapers and magazines, and field-walks to the sites of the murders, the module will examine these terrible crimes and their urban context, and critically assess some of the more lurid and simplistic representations of East London. Students will be encouraged to think beyond caricatures of both people and place, and to gain an informed understanding the social and economic conditions of the late Victorian Metropolis, the context for the Whitechapel Murders.

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