About the Event
Please note: more information about the format of the event will follow soon.
This talk focuses on a cluster of over 30 crime films from the 1950s and early 1960s that revolve around the death penalty. It has often been argued – particularly with reference to Robert Wise’s film “I Want to Live!” (1958) – that Hollywood took a progressive, abolitionist stance towards the death penalty. An analysis of Hollywood’s entire death penalty-related output during the period as well as an attention to films’ formal strategies of representing executions suggests, however, that Hollywood’s take on the death penalty was much more of “mixed verdict.”
The cluster features films that openly endorse the death penalty, films that rather clearly work against it, and films that argue against capital punishment on one level, but whose progressive message is undercut on another level – often on the level of camera work. This talk argues that in its mixedness, its undecidedness, as well as in its denial of race as a relevant category, the film cycle of the 1950s and 1960s prefigures the legal decisions in both Furman v. Georgia, which declared capital punishment unconstitutional in its then current application, and Gregg v. Georgia, which reinstated capital punishment.
Photo: © Jeremy Yap / unsplash.com
About Birte Christ
Birte Christ is stand-in professor of British and American Literature and Culture at Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen. One of her research foci is the field of Law and Literature. She has published widely on the relationship between poetry and law and is preparing a book on representations of the American death penalty from the antebellum period until today.
Bavarian American Academy
Karolinenplatz 3, 80333, Munich
Notice of Filming and Photography
Photography, audio, and video recording may occur at any Amerikahaus events. By entering the event premises, you consent to being photographed and/or recorded (both audio and video) and to having your image released, published, exhibited or reproduced for promotional and archival purposes, news, our publications, press, and inclusion on our website and social media.