Publication Date

April 2018

Advisor(s)

Lisa Dombrowski

Major

Film Studies

Language

English (United States)

Abstract

The recent mainstream appeal of series such as Making a Murderer and The Jinx has cemented the place of true crime documentaries as a popular genre in our cultural landscape. Examining earlier works crucial to its formation reveals the common characteristic of creating a participative role for the viewer. They are asked to determine the guilt of the crime suspect around whom the narrative is centered. This thesis traces the history of how the true crime documentary came to be recognized as a genre, offers an overview of its main techniques and their evolution into long-form storytelling, and finally takes a look at where the genre is headed now.

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