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Journal of the International Association for Semiotic Studies / Revue de l'Association Internationale de Sémiotique

Editor-in-Chief: Danesi, Marcel

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Volume 2015, Issue 207


The “monster” of Seymour Avenue: Internet crime news and Gothic reportage in the case of Ariel Castro

Michael Arntfield
Published Online: 2015-07-15 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/sem-2015-0036


While American media reportage of heinous crimes has long drawn on Gothic iconography to secure readers, the contemporary digital news market has engendered a trend in crime reporting that transparently imparts the conventions of Victorian horror, and by extension the nineteenth-century American Gothic. Employing a semiotic content analysis of Internet news stories (n=240) detailing the case of convicted serial kidnapper, rapist, and murderer Ariel Castro, this paper situates online narratives of his arrest as the distillate of Gothic fiction in earnest. This analysis includes a critical overview of digital journalism’s liberal and recurring use of the genre’s literary archetypes and physical forms. This paper also addresses the broader sociocultural consequences of this trend on due process and credible criminological research.

Keywords: Ariel Castro; Gothic criminology; crime news; penny dreadfuls; internet memes; the Depravity Scale


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About the article

Published Online: 2015-07-15

Published in Print: 2015-10-01

Citation Information: Semiotica, Volume 2015, Issue 207, Pages 201–215, ISSN (Online) 1613-3692, ISSN (Print) 0037-1998, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/sem-2015-0036.

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