Drew Gray:
FAKE NEWS FROM WHITECHAPEL?
RIPPEROLOGY AND THE ACADEME

Drew Gray’s talk will reflect on the current relative lack of academic historical research into the Whitechapel Murders of 1888 and suggest that this needs to change. There has been a tendency for historians of crime in particular to ignore the case, and he argues that this has created an unwanted vacuum that has been filled by amateur history and the entertainment industry. While this is not of itself a ‘bad thing’, recognising the tremendous amount of excellent work that popular historians and 'Ripper' enthusiasts have undertaken, the lack of academic interest does have consequences for how the public view both the murders and the killer, and indeed the entire late Victorian period. The cultural phenomenon of ‘Jack the Ripper’ has been allowed to emerge as a result and this fuels an industry that continues to portray the murderer, the murdered and the area in which these killings occurred in a manner that does a terrible and ongoing disservice to the women that were so brutally killed. Drew will look at some of the issues raised by Ripperologist magazine in 2015 and ongoing debates within Ripperology, and suggest that more engagement with a wider pool of academic and non-academic actors might help Ripperology shed the less attractive elements of its public image.

Dr Drew Gray is a Senior Lecturer in the History of Crime at the University of Northampton, and has published three books and several articles on crime and violence in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century London, including 'London Shadows' (Bloomsbury). He has been lecturing on the Whitechapel murders and the social history of East London for twelve years.