Talk of the town: The murder of Lucie Berlin and the production of local knowledge

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

The newspaperman from the Berliner Tageblatt had taken the streetcar to the northern precincts of the city, to the corner of Franseckistrasse and Oderbergerstrasse, where the young girl, Margarete Koschorreck, had been murdered a few days earlier. The reporter walked along Franseckistrasse: In a bar across from the Schultheiss brewery he overheard conversations among patrons discussing a newspaper article about the crime, walked past the “blood-red” reward notices still pasted on the Litfasssäulen, or advertising pillars, and, finally, at the murder scene at Franseckistrasse Number 39, stumbled across two little girls on little chairs in front of a junk store absorbed by an account of the murder, slowly reading every word out loud. This story is revealing because it points to the increasingly textual nature of knowledge about the city. At every step, in streetcars, in bars, and in shops, Berliners debated and pored over newspaper articles; along Franseckistrasse they confronted advertisements and police notices. These illustrate not only that reading had become commonplace in even the most proletarian districts of Berlin but that reading about the city had become a habitual way of apprehending the city. The newspaperman’s encounter on Franseckistrasse is also revealing because it re-enacted what was still a novelty among big city newspapers, namely, sending observers to far-flung outskirts to report on working-class lives in feuilletonistic detail.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCriminals and Their Scientists
Subtitle of host publicationThe History of Criminology in International Perspective
PublisherCambridge University Press
Pages377-398
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9781139052405
ISBN (Print)0521810124, 9780521810128
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)

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