1st Edition

Creating Cultural Monsters Serial Murder in America

By Julie B. Wiest Copyright 2011
    244 Pages
    by Routledge

    244 Pages 12 Color & 31 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Serial murderers generate an abundance of public interest, media coverage, and law enforcement attention, yet after decades of studies, serial murder researchers have been unable to answer the most important question: Why? Providing a unique and comprehensive exploration, Creating Cultural Monsters: Serial Murder in America explains connections between American culture and the incidence of serial murder, including reasons why most identified serial murderers are white, male Americans. It describes the omnipresence of serial murder in American media and investigates what it would take to decrease its occurrence.

    Presenting empirically supported arguments that have the potential to revolutionize how serial murder is understood, studied, and investigated, this volume:

    • Places the serial murder phenomenon in a cultural context, promoting qualitative understanding and the potential for reducing its frequency

    • Includes an illustrated model that explains how people utilize cultural values to construct lines of action according to their cultural competencies

    • Demonstrates how the American cultural milieu fosters serial murder and the creation of white male serial murderers

    • Provides a critique of the American mass media’s role in the development and notoriety of serial murder

    • Describes the framework on which the majority of definitions of serial murder are based

    Drawn from years of dedicated research of Dr. Julie B. Wiest, this volume presents a new approach to the study of U.S. serial murder, offers important implications for law enforcement and mass media, and forms a basis for future research on serial murder, murder, and violence in the U.S. and in other nations.

    Introduction. Part I: What We (Think We) Know about Serial Murder. Fundamentals of Serial Murder. The "Typical" Serial Murderer. Existing Explanations for Serial Murder. Part II: A Sociocultural Approach to Understanding Serial Murder. Cultural Context of Serial Murder. Applying the Model of American Culture. Implications. Appendix: Methodology. References. Index. Author.


    Dr. Julie B. Wiest is an assistant professor of communication and sociology at High Point University in High Point, North Carolina. She earned a doctorate in sociology from the University of Tennessee and a master’s degree in journalism and mass communication from the University of Georgia. Wiest also has nearly a decade of experience in print and electronic journalism and published a book in 2006 titled We Were There, a compilation of the World War II narratives of 30 veterans.

    " … well thought out and scholarly …."
    —Heith Copes, University of Alabama at Birmingham

    "Using an interdisciplinary framework that takes into account culture, gender, and race, the book provides a critical analysis of serial murders in the United States and makes an important contribution to knowledge in culture, gender, race/ethnicity and criminology."
    —Hoan N. Bui, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

    "I will be adopting this book as a primary source for additional insight and information for teaching an upper division course on Serial Killers … . The author’s sociocultural approach to understanding serial murder is a much needed theoretical conceptualization"
    —Jacquelyn L. Sandifer, Campbellsville University, Kentucky, USA

    "The author has written a fascinating, creative, and enlightening examination of our cultural monsters. Anyone who seeks to understand this horrific phenomenon will want to read Wiest's excellent work."
    —Jack Levin, Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts and author of Serial Killers and Sadistic Murderers: Up Close and Personal.