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Mareike Tüllmann

Writers, Readers, and True Crime 
Negotiating Truth and Meaning in Contemporary American Nonfiction

Essen 2012, 294 Seiten, 34,00 €[D], ISBN 978-3-89924-349-9

Writers, Readers, and True Crime studies a popular genre in contemporary American literature which has existed since the beginnings of the American literary tradition: true crime. These texts are categorized as nonfictional narratives and have been commercially successful but marginalized by critics and academic scholarship. This study traces the development of the genre and its central role in American reading culture, focusing on contemporary texts, which, after Capote had made the genre reputable in the 1960s with In Cold Blood, have played a dominant role in the American literary marketplace in the late twentieth and early twenty-first century, for example Erik Larson's The Devil in the White City, James Ellroy’s My Dark Places, Ron Powers’s Tom and Huck Don't Live Here Anymore or, a true crime classic, Ann Rule’s The Stranger Beside Me. The study constitutes a literary and cultural history of true crime that investigates the social and cultural significance of the genre as well as the question of authenticity in documentary texts that make a point of crossing the border between fact and fiction. It studies the contemporary nonfiction texts regarding their approach to questions of truth in light of postmodern epistemological skepticism as well as their allusions to and use of public discourse on violence and fear.

Mareike Tüllmann was born in Recklinghausen in 1982, graduated from the University of Paderborn in 2008 with a teaching degree in English and German, and took her doctoral degree in American Studies from the same university in 2012. She has held positions as a research assistant in Paderborn, as a teaching assistant at Illinois State University, and as an adjunct instructor at Illinois Wesleyan University. She currently teaches English and German at a Gymnasium.

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