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Our side of the mirror : the (re)-construction of 1970s’ masculinity in David Peace’s Red Riding

King, M; Cummins, ID

Our side of the mirror : the (re)-construction of 1970s’ masculinity in David Peace’s Red Riding Thumbnail


M King


David Peace and the late Gordon Burn are two British novelists who have used a mixture of fact and fiction in
their works to explore the nature of fame, celebrity and the media representations of individuals caught up in events,
including investigations into notorious murders. Both Peace and Burn have analysed the case of Peter Sutcliffe, who
was found guilty in 1981 of the brutal murders of thirteen women in the North of England. Peace’s novels filmed as the
Red Riding Trilogy are an excoriating portrayal of the failings of misogynist and corrupt police officers, which allowed
Sutcliffe to escape arrest. Burn’s somebody’s Husband Somebody’ Son is a detailed factual portrait of the community
where Sutcliffe spent his life. Peace’s technique combines reportage, stream of consciousness and changing points
of views including the police and the victims to produce an episodic non linear narrative. The result has been termed
Yorkshire noir. The overall effect is to render the paranoia and fear these crimes created against a backdrop of the
late 1970s and early 1980s. Peace has termed his novels as “fictions of the facts”.
This paper will examine the way that Peace uses his account of Sutcliffe’s crimes and the huge police manhunt
to catch the killer to explore the society that produced the perpetrator, victims and the police. The police officers
represent a form of “hegemonic masculinity” but one that is challenged by the extreme misogyny, brutality, misery
and degradation that surround them. This deconstruction of the 1970s male police officer is contrasted with the
enormously popular figure of Gene Hunt from the BBC TV series Life on Mars.


King, M., & Cummins, I. (2013). Our side of the mirror : the (re)-construction of 1970s’ masculinity in David Peace’s Red Riding.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 27, 2013
Online Publication Date Aug 29, 2013
Publication Date Aug 29, 2013
Deposit Date Oct 29, 2013
Publicly Available Date May 24, 2017
Journal Sociology and Criminology-Open Access
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 1
Issue 1
Pages 1-7
Publisher URL
Related Public URLs


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