Fake News from Fleet Street: Studying Jack the Ripper and the Victorian Periodical Press

  • Kevin A. Morrison


This chapter focuses on one of the first assignments I have asked my students to undertake on arriving in London: deciding on and investigating some aspect of how the Whitechapel murders were reported by contemporary newspapers by selecting a topic from a set of broad categories: evidence, victims, perpetrators, locations, and visual and textual rhetoric of reportage. It discusses the assignment in relation to three pedagogical goals: to think about the ways in which newspapers—often the first kind of source to which students of English literature might turn for contextualization or historians to gather facts about particular events—are highly problematic sources of evidence, to become more adept users of a library’s historical print and electronic resources and carry out original research and writing on topics related to the themes and issues we were studying, and to reflect on the historical roots of fake news and the spread of misinformation.


Jack the Ripper newspaper coverage Penny dreadfuls Fake news Periodicals research assignment 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kevin A. Morrison
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Foreign LanguagesHenan UniversityKaifengChina

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