The Pretty Accused: Evelyn Dick in the Press and Popular Culture, 1946-2006

Alison Jacques
Media Studies, University of Western Ontario
August, 2006
 

Abstract

In Hamilton, Ontario, in 1946, a young woman named Evelyn Dick was charged in the murders of her husband and baby. The so-called torso murder case, and particularly Evelyn’s three trials, attracted intense media and public attention. Nearly 60 years later, the case continues to appear in popular culture and in public discourse. This thesis is concerned primarily with the discursive construction of Evelyn Dick in the original press accounts of her trials, in 1946 and 1947, and in cultural texts based on the case that were produced between 2000 and 2006. The discourse analysis of these texts addresses two key research questions: How was Evelyn “spoken about”? Why do stories about her continue to resonate with the Canadian public? I argue that while the original press coverage of Evelyn’s trials constructed a soap opera–style narrative, recent retellings have tended to frame the torso murder story in terms of film noir.
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