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Serial Killers: Our Deepest Fears or Darkest Desires?

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Center for Aeronautics and Innovation

1050 W Nasa Blvd

Melbourne, FL 32901

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Many theories about the popularity of serial-killer narratives have been proposed. Some argue, for example, that audiences enjoy the capture and punishment of killers because their defeat represents symbolic victory over those who violate cherished cultural values and beliefs. Another theory suggests that, instead, audiences enjoy narratives about killers because they provide vicarious gratification of their own transgressive impulses. This talk will examine how well such theories describe the appeal of narratives featuring several popular serial killers, including Norman Bates of the Psycho franchise, Dexter Morgan of Jeff Lindsay's Dexter novels and the successful Showtime series based on them, and Dr. Hannibal Lecter, the cannibalistic killer from Thomas Harris's novels and their screen adaptations.


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Center for Aeronautics and Innovation

1050 W Nasa Blvd

Melbourne, FL 32901

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