1st Edition

Serial Killers in Contemporary Television Familiar Monsters in Post-9/11 Culture

Edited By Brett A.B. Robinson, Christine Daigle Copyright 2022

    This volume examines the significant increase in representations of serial killers as central characters in popular television over the last two decades. Via critical analyses of the philosophical and existential themes presented to viewers and their place in the cultural landscape of contemporary America, the authors ask: What is it about serial killers that incited such a boom in these types of narratives in popular television post-9/11?

    Looking past the serial format of television programming as uniquely suited for the presentation of the serial killer’s actions, the chapters delve into deeper reasons as to why TV has proven to be such a fertile ground for serial killer narratives in contemporary popular culture. An international team of authors question: What is it about serial killers that makes these characters deeply enlightening representations of the human condition that, although horrifically deviant, reflect complex elements of the human psyche? Why are serial killers intellectually fascinating to audiences? How do these characters so deeply affect us?

    Shedding new light on a contemporary phenomenon, this book will be a fascinating read for all those at the intersection of television studies, film studies, psychology, popular culture, media studies, philosophy, genre studies, and horror studies.

    From the Shadows to Our Living Rooms: Serial Killers on Popular TV After 9/11
    Brett A.B. Robinson

    Section I
    A Dark Empathy: Identification with Killer Characters

    1. When the Monsters are Real (and They Understand Us): The Horror of Hannibal
    Andrew M. Winters

    2. Born in Blood: 9/11, Trauma, Selfhood, and Dexter
    Brett A.B. Robinson

    3. ‘Too Much History, Too Much Remembering’: National Trauma and Individual Trauma in The Fall
    Philip L. Simpson

    4. From Villains to Clowns: Adapting Serial Killers to Internet Memes
    Devaleena Kundu

    Section II
    Death and Sex: Gendered Bodies in Serial Killer Narratives

    5. ‘He is a Murderer’: You, Fandom, and the Romanticized Male Killer
    Jake Pitre

    6. The Killing Characters of Penny Dreadful
    Stephanie Green

    7. The Subversive Powers of Killing Eve
    Paul Emmett

    8. Better the Devil You Know: Nostalgia for the Captured Killer in Netflix’s Conversations with A Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes
    Stella Gaynor

    Section III
    Unknown Killers: The Ambiguity of Post-9/11 Culture

    9. Dropping the Mask of Sanity: How Mindhunter Deconstructs the Profiling Procedural
    Ashley R. Smith

    10. True Detective and the Post-Serial Killer Text
    Rodney Taveira

    11. Unthinkable Crimes: Representation, Knowledge, Mindhunter
    Dan McFadden


    Brett A.B. Robinson holds a PhD in Interdisciplinary Humanities from Brock University, Canada. His primary research interests are in the areas of popular culture, film and television studies, and philosophy. He has completed research on the complex intersections between selfhood and performance as well as material affect’s influence on identity.

    Christine Daigle is Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Posthumanism Research Institute, Brock University. She has published extensively in continental philosophy. Her current research, funded by Canadian federal agencies and supported by a fellowship at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, pertains to the concept of posthuman vulnerability and its ethical potential.