My research explores Crimes of Passion - and the enduring popular interest people take in them - to think critically about the relationship between what we recognise as "heterosexuality" and the things we have historically taken for granted as "normal".
A crime of passion has historically been associated with a violent crime attributed to significant emotional distress triggered by sexual or romantic ill-fortune.. Historically, the crime of passion has been a frame of representation that romanticises violence, often implying that violence is the natural or necessary corollary to intense passion and sexual desire. My work seeks to challenge this representational logic, drawing attention to how violence, or the threat of violence, has been crucial in conceptualising and understanding sexual practices and relationships between men and women over the last one hundred years.
My research also explores the significance of such crimes to sexual practices, sexualities and everyday romance in the first half of the twentieth century. It pays particular attention to the ‘cultural throw’ of such crimes, analysing newspaper articles, first-hand accounts, sensational life stories, novels, short stories, and other cultural texts that were the primary means through which the crime of passion was constituted in British popular culture. It examines how crimes of these sort became a privileged site to discuss sexual manners and mores, and one of the primary ways appropriate gendered behaviour in relationships was examined, discussed and debated.