Original Publication Date
Year of Award
Bachelor of Arts (BA)
College of Arts & Sciences
History, Philosophy, and Religion
Execution, Hanging, Lynching, Human rights, Government, Justice, Executioner, Voyeurism
If the Government were to make a statement saying that they were bringing back public executions, for the worst types of criminals, think along the lines of rapists and murders, and to make sure that everyone knows about and has access to them, there will be huge amounts of media coverage and the Government will be broadcasting it live on public TV. What do you think would happen? You would probably hope that the majority of the country would be outraged and disgusted by the prospect and refuse to watch such horrible human rights violations, right? But what if the opposite happens, what if the day the first execution is set to take place hundreds of thousands are watching on TV or at the place of execution. What if the people watching treated the execution like a football game, tailgating, paying for box seats, and buying souvenirs to remember the day, is this even conceivable? In the past this is exactly what happened. The religious and state executions of the 14th to 16th centuries quickly became public spectacle but how and why? This essay seeks to show you a road map with examples to help us to understand the transition from a religious ritual to a sensationalized tailgating party that enamored thousands of our ancestors.
Open Access Capstone Project
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.
McClanahan, Jesse Stone, "The Public Spectacle of Death: An Essay on Public Execution" (2021). All Theses, Dissertations, and Capstone Projects. 555.