Drexel Gets Ripped!

Jack the Ripper The University hosted scholars from around the world to discuss one of the most notorious killers in history — and the world that surrounds him. "Jack the Ripper through a Wider Lens: An Interdisciplinary Conference," sponsored by the Pennoni Honors College in conjunction with the College of Arts and Sciences, took place on October 28 and 29 in apt proximity to Halloween.

The conference gathered together experts from a variety of fields who used the notorious Ripper case as a reference point in exploring the condition of women, the poor, and the mentally ill, as well as the nature of police and forensic work during the Victorian period. Also discussed were issues relating to the representation of Jack the Ripper in movies and graphic novels and the influence of the case on current practices in police profiling and psychiatric treatment. Keynote speaker Drew Gray discussed the social history of the London in which Jack the Ripper operated. Francine Douwes, a 1982 graduate of Drexel, screened a short film, Femmes Fatales, that she produced specifically for the conference.

Attendees came from as far as Canada, England, and Wales. Four of the speakers were Drexel faculty: Deirdre McMahon from the Department of English and Philosophy; Matt Kaufhold from the Department of Media Arts and a frequent Honors instructor; Cordelia Francis Biddle, who teaches in the Honors Program; and Jack Maxwell, former chief inspector of the Philadelphia Police Detective Bureau, who teaches in Criminal Justice. Emilie Passow and Don Riggs (also an Honors instructor), both from English and Philosophy, served as moderators. Fred J. Abbate, the winner of the first annual Honors College award for Excellence in Teaching, and who is teaching an Honors Colloquium entitled "Jack the Ripper and the Logic of Deduction" this term, co-chaired the conference with Paula Marantz Cohen from the Department of English and Philosophy and a member of the Honors College staff. Suzanne Rocheleau and the Honors College staff helped plan and administer the conference.