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Title: The representations of serial killers
Author: Connelly, Peter J. M.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2736 4314
Awarding Body: University of Stirling
Current Institution: University of Stirling
Date of Award: 2011
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In this thesis, I have analysed representations of a selection of fictional and factual serial killers from Thomas de Quincey to Thomas Harris’s Hannibal Lecter, from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein to the autobiographical narratives of real life serial killers Carl Panzram, Donald Gaskins and Ian Brady. My analysis of these texts identifies the portrayals of serial killers in terms of representations as aesthetic, existential, socially othered phenomena. The thesis proceeds from the premise that serial killer narratives often obscure the existential brute reality of murder. As such, I examine serial killing vis-à-vis attempted explanatory shifts in such narratives which represent serial murder and serial killers in terms of aesthetic, psychopathological, moral/religious/supernatural and socio-political phenomena, and I investigate the implications of these shifts. I focus initially on Romantic ideas of the self, and in the relationship between the ‘outsider’ artist/poet and the textual emergence of the figure of the solitary ‘serial’ murderer in the early nineteenth century, particularly in relation to De Quincey’s aesthetic murder essays. Subsequent fluctuations of the representation of serial killing between mental-health, law-and-order and political/social discourses are discussed in relation to the subsequent texts. I conclude by examining cognitive dissonance theory, A.E. Van Vogt’s description of the Violent Man, and James Gilligan’s theories on violence, in order to propose a possible synergetic response to narratives and representations of serial killers and serial killing.
Supervisor: Byron, Glennis Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Thomas de Quincey ; James Gilligan ; Thomas Harris ; Colin Wilson ; Marie Belloc Lowndes ; Mary Shelley ; Serial murderers Biography