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The «Dexter Syndrome»

The Serial Killer in Popular Culture

Series:

Marcel Danesi

The serial killer has become an obsession ever since Jack the Ripper became a media sensation, embedding a new and horrifying type of murderer into our cultural consciousness – one who kills darkly and in the dark. All popular media – print, radio, television, and so on – have become absorbed by this new figure. This book traces its diffusion through all media and discusses what this reveals about modern society. Using the Dexter saga of novels and television programs as its basis, the book argues that a «Dexter Syndrome» has emerged whereby we no longer see a difference between real and fictional serial killers. The psychological and social reasons for this are explored by tracing pop culture texts themselves (movies, novels, etc.). Above all else, Dexter’s concept of a «moral code» forms a thematic thread that allows the author to argue that our contemporary moral nihilism has produced the demand for horror and horrific characters like serial killers, who have replaced medieval demons and monsters.
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CRIMINAL HUMANITIES & FORENSIC SEMIOTICS

Michael Arntfield and Marcel Danesi General Editors

This series publishes monographs, anthologies, annotated literary editions, and comparative studies that critically engage the humanities as a locus for the study of criminal offending, criminal investigation, deviance, penology, and deterrence, as well as the epistemology of justice. We are especially interested in submissions with a strong interdisciplinary orientation and which lie at the crossroads of theory and practice. In other words, this series is foremost concerned with using artistic, literary, and multimedia texts, situations, and other products of the strictly non-investigative world as vehicles for exploring long-standing social and procedural issues of interest to both academia and the general public. By engaging a wide readership encompassing both scholars and practitioners, it is the intent of this series to breathe new life into the humanities and cultural studies, not to further alienate or obfuscate the scholarship done in these disciplines. For this reason, collaborations between authors representing academic institutions and those working in both private and public knowledge sectors, including government and specialized areas of law enforcement, are encouraged to collaborate with respect to this project.

The series will publish studies and anthologies that explore the connection between fictional writing, movies, music, traditional electronic media, the Internet, and other domains of popular culture and how they have influenced the perception of crime and criminality. The synergy that exists between real crime (reality) and imagined criminality as manifesting itself through representations in writing...

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