Serial Killers: Death and Life in America's Wound Culture, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Serial Killers

Death and Life in America's Wound Culture, 1st Edition

By Mark Seltzer


312 pages

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Paperback: 9780415914819
pub: 1998-01-13
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In this provocative cultural study, the serial killer emerges as a central figure in what Mark Seltzer calls 'America's wound culture'. From the traumas displayed by talk show guests and political candidates, to the violent entertainment of Crash or The Alienist, to the latest terrible report of mass murder, we are surrounded by the accident from which we cannot avert our eyes. Bringing depth and shadow to our collective portrait of what a serial killer must be, Mark Seltzer draws upon popular sources, scholarly analyses, and the language of psychoanalysis to explore the genesis of this uniquely modern phenomenon. Revealed is a fascination with machines and technological reproduction, with the singular and the mass, with definitions of self, other, and intimacy. What emerges is a disturbing picture of how contemporary culture is haunted by technology and the instability of identity.


"[A]mbitious. With great sophistication and virtuosity, Seltzer's study of popular culture widens the circle of inquiry on the subject of serial murder-theoretically, historically, and rhetorically." -- Journal of American Culture

"The book is unique because in three of its four sections it addresses serial killing from a relatively broad perspective rather than from a narrow case perspective. . . . Seltzer . . . makes no attempt to develop a theoretical framework, but he has prepared a thorough interesting descriptive manuscript." -- Choice

"Seltzer's indictment of the serial killer culture is scathing…" -- Chicago Sun-Times, Chris Bull

"[Serial Killers] is thoroughly researched…And Mr. Seltzer's command of the territory shines through." -- The Ottawa Citizen

"[an] illuminating new book." -- The Washington Post

"[Seltzer] offers a fresh view…" -- Library Journal Drawing with equal dexerity on sources ranging from gay pulp novelist Dennis Cooper to French philosopher Jacques Lacan, Seltzer sees the serial killer as a sort of performance artist around whom we gather in an unhealthy attempt to exorcise our own demons

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
ART / Popular Culture
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Media Studies