As I’ve been studying Criminology at Leicester and delved deeper into different subject areas, I’ve become more and more interested in the reality of the subject and in the depictions of crime and criminal justice that are all around us.
I’ve found myself watching and reading more crime fiction (and some non-fiction depictions like the Netflix ‘Making a Murderer’ documentary and Piper Kerman’s book ‘Orange is the New Black’). I tell myself my motivation is to learn more about different areas of criminology, but since studying it, I find myself more often being able to scrutinise these media as, often subjective, depictions varying in authenticity. Studying Criminology has enabled me to experience crime media with more of a dialogue rather than my previous role as more of just an observer, which I am really pleased about. Ultimately, the more this develops, the more value you can gain from crime media, which is a great argument for spending a night in watching Orange is the New Black (rather than at the library!). (Joking, of course…)
There is also a lot to gain from understanding why people depict crime and criminal justice how they do. Some of the most interesting elements to look at in this are both creator motivations and personal experience, as well as the influence of societal and historical context. For example, why might Agatha Christie’s detective novels be similar or different from any modern detective fiction? And what influence does this have on public opinions regarding crime and the criminal justice system? There are a few opportunities in Leicester’s Criminology degree to study crime and the media, which brings another argument for spending more time catching up on shows!
Last night I went to a talk by crime novelist Frances Fyfield where I bought her latest book and got to talk to her a little bit while she signed my book. I really recommend events like this, where you can hear first-hand from the creators of crime media and possibly have the chance to discuss the subject with them. It’s just taking the next step beyond the dialogue between your brain and your computer or TV screen or the pages in a book, and getting something hugely rewarding from it.
PaLeicester offer countless opportunities to hear first-hand from people highly experienced in matters of crime and criminal justice. Most notable are the University’s Scarman Lectures. I have been to a few and they are so good! The core Second Year (or Third Year I think as of 2017) module ‘Working in Criminal Justice’ also entails hearing a lecture each week from professionals coming from different areas of the criminal justice system. I have written in a past blog post about one of these lectures. I’m fairly new to attending book launches and signings, but I will be looking out for these next year in Leicester, and some of my friends have travelled by train to nearby cities for them. Leicester’s November Literary Festival is worth keeping an eye out for. Sally Wainwright, the writer/director of crime TV programme Happy Valley, and Patricia Cornwell, best-selling crime writer who meticulously researches her forensic science content, will be making an appearance, as well as other gems like Jacqueline Wilson!
It’s also worth having a look at what’s going on in your hometown because little things like this over breaks can be great for sustaining your Criminology studies at a comfortable pace :).