ESSE Conference, Galway, Ireland
Monday 22 August – Friday 26 August 2016
Seminar title: Reinterpreting Victorian Serial Murderers in Literature, Film, TV Series and Graphic Novels
Serial murder came to the fore in the Victorian era and constituted a specific phenomenon within a growing attraction for deviance. If crime tended to be associated with socially problematic areas of the metropolis, the idea of serial killing raised newissues. It drew attention to the pathologies of the human mind and to morbid impulseswhich might drive ‘normal’,citizens to secretly behave like primitive or insane people. It contributed to the characterization of the detective as a modern hero who had to face constantly new challenges. The agonbetween the detective and the criminal became a recurrent trope, as testified by the fictionalized duels between Holmes and Moriarty, the London police and Jack the Ripper, etc.The threat posed by serial murderers was transposed into literary figures such as Dracula (Bram Stoker) or the Beetle (Richard Marsh) who drained the vital lymph of the Victorian bourgeoisie in serialized actions of violence and reverse-colonization.
All these themes have acquired new relevance in contemporary culture. A social as well as a cultural phenomenon that has reached its climax in the British and American world, serial murder has become an object of constant representation in different media.If many stories of serial killing are set in today’s world, others re-imagine the Victorian past in various ways, bringing to the fore the significant links existing between the nineteenth-century and the postmodern curiosity about the phenomenon.
This seminar intends to explore various ways in which contemporary culture re-imagines Victorian serial killers and their deeds in relation to our postmodern fascination with deviance and perverse behaviour. Contributors are invited to explore, among others, the following fields:
- the serial killer in neo-Victorian novels
- films and TV series set in the nineteenth century or using Victorian model characters (i.e., the BBC Series Jekyll)
- graphic novels (i.e., Alan Moore’s From Hell)
Papers are expected to deal with various aspects of the current reinterpretation of nineteenth-century serial murder. Aesthetic reflections on the Victorian and neo-Victorian interest in a topic pertaining to low-brow literature and associated with unrefined ideas (i.e., ugliness, violence, sensationalism) are also welcome.
Please send proposals (350 words max.) for 15 minute papers and a short bio-bibliographical note (250 words max) to professors Mariaconcetta Costantini (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Gilles Menegaldo (email@example.com) byFebruary 28, 2016.
Convenors : Mariaconcetta Costantini (G. d’Annunzio University of Chieti-Pescara, Italy), Gilles Menegaldo (Université de Poitiers, France)