The 'evil child' has infiltrated the cultural imagination, taking on prominent roles in popular films, television shows and literature. This collection of essays from a global range of scholars examines a fascinating array of evil children and the cultural work that they perform, drawing upon sociohistorical, cinematic, and psychological approaches. The chapters explore a wide range of characters including Tom Riddle in the Harry Potter series, the possessed Regan in William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist, the monstrous Ben in Doris Lessing’s The Fifth Child, the hostile fetuses of Rosemary’s Baby and Alien, and even the tiny terrors featured in the reality television series Supernanny. Contributors also analyse various themes and issues within film, literature and popular culture including ethics, representations of evil and critiques of society.
This book was originally published as two special issues of Literature Interpretation Theory.
Table of Contents
1. Evil Children in Film and Literature Karen Renner
2. My Baby Ate the Dingo: The Visual Construction of the Monstrous Infant in Horror Film Steffen Hantke
3. Monstrous Children as Harbingers of Mortality: A Psychological Analysis of Doris Lessing’s The Fifth Child Daniel Sullivan and Jeff Greenberg
4. Spoil the Child: Unsettling Ethics and the Representation of Evil William Wandless
5. Private Lessons from Dumbledore’s "Chamber of Secrets": The Riddle of the Evil Child in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Holly Blackford
6. Terrifying Tots and Hapless Homes: Undoing Modernity in Recent Bollywood Cinema Meheli Sen
7. "The Power of Christ Compels You": Holy Water, Hysteria, and the Oedipal Psychodrama in The Exorcist Sara Williams
8. How to See the Horror: The Hostile Fetus in Rosemary’s Baby and Alien A. Robin Hoffman
9. Extreme Human Makeovers: Supernanny, the Unruly Child, and Adulthood in Crisis Catherine Fowler and Rebecca Kambuta
Karen J. Renner is Lecturer in American Literature at Northern Arizona University, USA. Her research interests include 19th and 20th century American Literature, Popular Culture, Childhood Studies, and the Horror genre. She has written many chapters and journal articles, and is the author of Perverse Subjects: Drunks, Gamblers, and Prostitutes in Antebellum America (2011).
"The 'Evil Child' in Literature, Film and Popular Culture is delightfully easy to read, very entertaining, and extremely clear. Whether or not it is the result of a conscious editorial request, the concision, precision and limpidity of all the chapters in the book immediately place it astride two markets – academic and non-academic. It is to be hoped, in fact, that Routledge's austere packaging does not put off lay readers of popular non-fiction, as they would surely benefit from this intelligent, up-to-date and very readable volume." - International Research Society for Children's Literature
"This book does a fascinating job depicting cultural, social, and religious differences in describing the idea of the evil child by using nationally and internationally recognized movies from Hollywood and Bollywood cinema." - Ayesha Silman, Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry