Kissing; The British Hitman

Kissing - a cultural history. How do we make sense of the kiss and why did it become a vital sign of romance and courtship? Laurie Taylor talks to Marcel Danesi, Professor of Linguistic Anthropology about his new book 'The History of the Kiss' which argues that kissing was the first act of "free romance" liberated from the yoke of arranged unions. When the kiss first appeared in poetry and songs of the medieval period, it was as a desirable but forbidden act. Since then it has evolved into the quintessential symbol of love-making in the popular imagination. From early poems and paintings to current films, its romantic incarnation coincides with the birth of popular culture itself. They're joined by Karen Harvey, Reader in Cultural History at the University of Sheffield, who has studied the meaning of the kiss across different cultures and periods.

Also, hitmen for hire: David Wilson, Professor of Criminology, examined 27 cases of contract killing committed by 36 men (including accomplices) and one woman. Far from involving shadowy, organised criminals, the reality of killing for cash turned out to be surprisingly mundane.

Producer: Jayne Egerton.

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28 minutes

Last on

Mon 7 Apr 2014 00:15

Marcel Danesi

Professor of Semiotics and Communication Theory, and coordinator of the University of Toronto


Find out more about Marcel Danesi



The History of the Kiss: The Birth of Popular Culture
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan 
ISBN-10: 1137376848
ISBN-13: 978-1137376848

Karen Harvey

Reader in Cultural History, Department of History, University of Sheffield


Find out more about Dr Karen Harvey



The Little Republic: Masculinity and Domestic Authority in Eighteenth-Century Britain
Publisher: OUP Oxford 
ISBN-10: 0199686130
ISBN-13: 978-0199686131

David Wilson

Professor of Criminology, Centre for Applied Criminology, School of Social Sciences, Birmingham City University


Find out more about David Wilson



Abstract: The British Hitman: 1974–2013
Donal Macintyre, David Wilson, Elizabeth Yardley and Liam Brolan
The Howard Journal of Criminal Justice
doi: 10.1111/hojo.12063

Ethnography Award

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