Campus News

Book examines reactions to death penalty

The Spectacle of Death: Populist Literary Responses to American Capital Cases
By Kristin Boudreau
Prometheus Books

Using the written word to voice their collective opinions, Americans have long used plays, songs, pamphlets, broadsides poems and novels to debate the death penalty outside the courts of justice.

While official courtroom trials attempt to exclude the broader sociopolitical contexts that inform murder trials, the unofficial trials that take place in the public world of the printed page openly invite debate over just such concerns, according to Kristin Boudreau, associate professor of English at UGA.

In The Spectacle of Death, Boudreau examines public reactions to America’s death penalty from colonial days to the present. She looks at the important role that literary works and popular writers can play in stirring public sentiment against the state in high-profile capital punishment cases.

The last chapter of the book discusses contemporary artistic efforts to combat the American capital punishment system. It ­includes a discussion of the play The Exonerated, which will be ­performed by University Theatre Oct. 11-13 and Oct. 15 in Seney-Stovall Chapel. Boudreau will serve as a panelist at a roundtable discussion following the Oct. 13 performance.