Our next session will be on ‘Monstrosity and Gendered Criminality’ on Thursday 29th November, 5pm, in Strathcona Seminar Room 13. The session will be led by Het Phillips…
I will be using a series of brief examples of mythical language being used for Myra Hindley, and longer extracts from Lisa Downing’s The Subject Of Murder as an entry point into discussing the ways in which the female criminal is figured as excessive and perverse in ways that exaggerate, complicate, and contradict the trope of the monstrous male serial killer (which is in itself synonymous with the trope of ‘serial killer’ in general, because of the masculinity as the default, but also emphasised by the majority of serial killers being male).
The criminal-as-monster trope is one that heavily draws on discourses of appropriate limits of gender, sexuality and the physical body, on ideas of the Gothic, the abject and the uncanny.
Conferring monstrosity is of course the basis of Othering.
We might consider the ways in which the ‘mug shot’, Lombroso and such scientific curiosities as phrenology, eugenics and sexology contribute to what as a culture we think we know about ‘monsters’.
It might be interesting to discuss whether and how we can imagine a monstrosity as metaphor for criminality or morality that is not specifically visual or embodied, and that does not rest upon a gender binary and a series of stereotypes of physicality that emerge from class- and racially inflected and inherently ableist deliminations of what it means to be (allowed to be considered) fully human.
Extracts for this session can be found on this link: Monstrosity, Femininity, Masculinity, Criminality
We look forward to seeing you for this which looks set to be a stimulating and interesting opportunity to come together as researchers on sexuality & gender.