Monsters in and among Us: Toward a Gothic Criminology

Monsters in and among Us: Toward a Gothic Criminology

Monsters in and among Us: Toward a Gothic Criminology

Monsters in and among Us: Toward a Gothic Criminology

Synopsis

The Gothic is flourishing not just in Stephen King's novels and Quentin Tarantino's films, but also in the media renderings of phenomena like the O J Simpson case, and in characterizations of terrorism. This collection of essays critically interrogates contemporary visualizations of the Gothic and the monstrous in film and media.

Excerpt

Caroline Joan (Kay) Picart and Cecil Greek

WHY AN ANTHOLOGY ON GOTHIC CRIMINOLOGY?

WHAT PROMPTS THIS ANTHOLOGY IS AN EXPLOSION OF BOOKS AND films that link violence, fear, images of “monstrosity,” and Gothic modes of narration and visualization in American popular culture, academia, and even public policy. As Mark Edmundson (1997, xii) notes: “Gothic conventions have slipped over into ostensibly nonfictional realms. Gothic is alive not just in Stephen King’s novels and Quentin Tarantino’s films, but in the media renderings of the O. J. Simpson case, in our political discourse, in modes of therapy, on TV news, on talk shows like Oprah, in our discussions of AIDS and of the environment. American culture at large has become suffused with Gothic assumptions, with Gothic characters and plots.” Nevertheless, there have been few critical anthologies that have aimed at an interdisciplinary approach focusing specifically on the complex continuum of fact and fiction, involving a dialogue that moves across the humanities (film criticism, cultural studies, rhetoric) and the social sciences (communication, criminology, sociology) in exploring this phenomenon. This collection of essays critically interrogates contemporary visualizations of the Gothic and the monstrous in film and media. The ongoing fascination with evil, as simultaneously repellant and irresistibly attractive, in Hollywood film, criminological case studies, popular culture, and even public policy, points to the emergence of “Gothic criminology,” with its focus on themes such as blood lust, compulsion, fear, godlike vengeance, and power and domination. Rather than assuming that cinematic and mediated discourses tell us little about the reality of criminological phenomena, “Gothic criminology” as instantiated in this collection of essays recognizes the complementarity of critical academic and aesthetic accounts of deviant behavior as intersecting with public policy in complex, non-

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