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PhD defence

Drama in the Dailies. Violence and Gender in Dutch Newspapers, 1880 to 1930.

Thursday 23 April 2020
Academy Building
Rapenburg 73
2311 GJ Leiden

Due to the coronavirus measures, this promotion will take place online. Unfortunately, there is no digital possibility to attend this promotion.


Stories of family and sexual violence are regularly in the news these days, yet the media are sometimes criticized for sensationalizing or misrepresenting these crimes. This thesis offers a point of comparison by looking at the situation during the rise of the mass media in the Netherlands, from 1880 to 1930. Newspaper circulations shot up and newspapers increasingly targeted women readers and the working class. The thesis examines how these changes affected press coverage of violent crimes that involved women, whether as the victim or the perpetrator, such as domestic violence, infanticide and rape. While other historians have explored media representations of crime, this is the first study to chart the changes over time and relate this to changing readerships and journalistic practices. A key question was whether public condemnation of male violence against women increased during this period, as has been argued by some historians.

I find that newspaper reporting on partner violence and sexual violence increased after 1880, and the reports became more sympathetic to the women involved. I argue that this was in part because such human-interest stories were thought to appeal to the new target segment of women readers. However, journalists never treated such violence as a social problem and they often romanticized or trivialized assaults by men. Moreover, Dutch crime news was also influenced by the availability of sources and by distinctive features of the Dutch criminal justice system.


  • Prof.dr. M. van der Heijden


PhD dissertations

PhD dissertations by Leiden PhD students are available digitally after the defence through the Leiden Repository, that offers free access to these PhD dissertations. Please note that in some cases a dissertation may be under embargo temporarily and access to its full-text version will only be granted later.

Press contact

Maarten Muns, Scientific Communications Adviser, Leiden University
+31 71 527 3282

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