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Jack the Ripper Comes to Academia

September 15, 2011

Ripper-conference-photo
The case of Jack the Ripper, which has long captivated amateur true-crime enthusiasts, has come to academia. Drexel University’s Pennoni Honors College and the College of Arts and Sciences jointly will host "Jack the Ripper through a Wider Lens: An Interdisciplinary Conference" on October 28 and 29.

Unlike many conferences aimed primarily at investigating the identity of the infamous 1888 serial killer of prostitutes in the East End of London, the Drexel event will explore a much broader range of issues, including the social, economic, psychological and philosophical aspects of the famous Ripper murders. The conference will be held at Drexel’s Edmund D. Bossone Research Enterprise Center (Market Street, between 31st and 32nd Streets).

The conference’s opening session will feature an overview of the Ripper case, a discussion by experts on criminal investigation and an evening reception for registered guests. Throughout the weekend, seminars will examine topics such as the economic and social conditions of women in late 19th century England, the logic behind the theories of detection at work in the attempts to capture the Ripper, what films and other fictionalized versions of the Ripper case reveal about how society appraises both killer and victims, the role the media played in fueling fear and why people continue to be fascinated by the case more than 12 decades later. For the full agenda, visit http://drexel.edu/honors/conferences/jtr/Agenda/.

Special guest speakers include: internationally renowned Ripper scholar Martin Fido, formerly research fellow of Balliol College, Oxford, and now senior lecturer at Boston University and author of The Crimes, Detection and Death of Jack the Ripper; Drew D. Gray, a senior lecturer in the history of crime at the University of Northampton in the U.K. and author of London’s Shadows: The Dark Side of the Victorian City; John Maxwell, former chief inspector of the Detective Bureau of the City of Philadelphia and current faculty member of Drexel's criminal-justice program; Richard Walter, an acclaimed criminal profiler and one of the original founders of The Vidoq Society, an organization centered on investigating cold cases.

“Jack the Ripper through a Wider Lens” is co-chaired by Drexel professors Paula Marantz Cohen and Fred J. Abbate. Cohen, distinguished professor of English at Drexel, recently published the novel What Alice Knew, which puts the Ripper murders at the center of a mystery involving Henry and William James. Abbate, who teaches philosophy in the Honors College, will be introducing a course in the fall term on the philosophical and logical problems of criminal detection using the Ripper murders as the model.

To date, conference registrants include those from Baltimore; Boston; California; Philadelphia; Northampton, England; Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; Lethbridge, Alberta; and Cardiff, Wales; among others. Drexel students are invited to attend free of charge; faculty members and students from other universities are eligible for a 50 percent rebate of the registration fee. More information about the conference, registration and hotel accommodations is available at http://drexel.edu/honors/conferences/jtr/.

News Media Contact:
Alex McKechnie, News Officer, University Communications
215-895-2705 (office), 401-651-7550 (cell) or amckechnie@drexel.edu

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