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Depictions of intimate homicide in the media and popular culture

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Room 370, Te Puna Mārama / Social Sciences Building (201N-370)

Symonds Street

Auckland, Auckland 1010

New Zealand

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Dr Caroline Blyth discusses problematic media depictions of intimate partner homicide, and how they sustain misogynistic discourses.

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Winter Lecture Series 2020 - "An unlikely and lovable murderer": Depictions of intimate partner homicide in the media and popular culture

Dr Caroline Blyth

Twelve women were killed by their partner or ex-partner in Aotearoa New Zealand during 2019. Meanwhile, in Australia, one woman is murdered on average every week by a current or former partner. Yet despite these grim statistics, intimate partner homicide is frequently depicted in the media and popular culture in deeply harmful ways. Victims are blamed, perpetrators are valorized or excused, and thus myths about gender violence continue to be recycled and reinforced.

In this lecture, I discuss a number of recent examples from media reporting of intimate partner homicide, as well as the TV dramatization of a historical New Zealand murder (“How to Murder Your Wife”), sold to us on TVNZ as a quirky “black comedy.”

I argue that these representations of femicide in the media and popular culture are a powerful means of sustaining misogynistic discourses, which undermine the current crisis of domestic violence and frame women’s murders as inevitable, understandable, or even a source of entertainment.

Dr Caroline Blyth is a Senior Lecturer in Religious Studies at the University of Auckland. Her research interests encompass exploring the Bible in popular culture, focusing in particular on representations of gender and sexuality in biblical and contemporary narratives. Her current obsession is exploring representations of gender violence in crime fiction and true crime, reading these intertextually alongside biblical rape narratives.

Her recent publications include The Lost Seduction: Reimagining Delilah’s Afterlives as Femme Fatale (2017), and The Bible in Crime Fiction and Drama: Murderous Texts (co-edited with Alison Jack, 2019). Along with Johanna Stiebert and Katie Edwards, she co-manages the Shiloh Project, an interdisciplinary research group exploring the intersections between rape culture and religion (http://shiloh-project.group.shef.ac.uk/).

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Room 370, Te Puna Mārama / Social Sciences Building (201N-370)

Symonds Street

Auckland, Auckland 1010

New Zealand

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