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In Cold Blood: A Reading & Discussion Program at LIU Post
March 29 @ 10:00 am - 11:30 am
One event on April 5, 2019 at 10:00 am
One event on April 12, 2019 at 10:00 am
One event on April 26, 2019 at 10:00 am
Why are law-abiding people fascinated with crime and criminals? In his introduction to True Crime: An American Anthology (2008), Harold Schechter looks for answers to this question from a philosopher, a psychologist, and a sociologist: Plato, Sigmund Freud, and Emile Durkheim. Do tales of murder and mayhem enable us readers to channel our own aggressive impulses? allow us to participate vicariously in deeds that we would never do ourselves? afford us a smug sense of our own comparative virtue? This series of readings will provide participants with a safe space in which to explore dangerous impulses.
All four narratives are based on true crimes. In Meyer Levin’s Compulsion, based on the Leopold and Loeb case of the 1920s, two young Jewish boys test Friedrich Nietzsche’s theory of the superman by plotting to murder another young Jewish boy. In Cold Blood, Truman Capote’s nonfiction novel, is similarly based on the horrific 1959 murder of an entire family, tracing the crime’s trajectory through the criminal justice system to its conclusion in the execution of the perpetrators. The combination of advanced scientific knowledge with evil impulses is the subject of both James B. Stewart’s Blind Eye: The Terrifying Story of a Doctor Who Got Away with Murder, and Deborah Blum’s The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York. Both books will increase readers’ familiarity with forensic medicine, but perhaps decrease their confidence in the medical community.