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Of Men And Monsters: Jeffrey Dahmer And The Construction of the Serial Killer Paperback – November 3, 1998


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press; New edition edition (November 3, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0299156842
  • ISBN-13: 978-0299156848
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,238,992 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"This is a book, not about what makes the serial killer tick, but about those of us--all of us--who have wound the clock and need to keep it running." These words by historian James Kincaid, in the foreword to Of Men and Monsters, introduce the idea, explored in depth by author Richard Tithecott, that we construct the phenomenon of serial killing. We also construct ourselves, he says, as audience to that spectacle. The killer himself responds to that audience, in a classic loop of the observer affecting the observed. It is a postmodern view, of course, to say that society, and its designated representatives such as FBI serial-killer experts, actually collude in the actions of a "monster" like Jeffrey Dahmer. Tithecott draws on the ideas of French philosopher Michel Foucault to explain and illustrate this view, using prose that is heavy going in places, but still quite readable.

Another important contribution to the cultural study of violence is Mark Seltzer's Serial Killers: Death and Life in America's Wound Culture. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"In this post-modern reading, Jeffrey Dahmer is not a page in the history of true crime but a Monster who serves many rhetorical and cultural functions."—Philip Jenkins, Penn State University, author of Using Murder: The Social Construction of Serial Homicide



"Brilliantly compelling. Tithecott challenges us to investigate our simultaneous distancing from and fascination with serial murder."—Maria Tatar, Harvard University, author of Lustmord: Sexual Murder in Weimar Germany



"Tithecott takes aim at the unsettling disparity of attention between murderer and murdered."—Chris Bull, Washington Post

Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 47 people found the following review helpful By George Lundskow on September 22, 1999
Typical of postmodern "theory," the writing is needlessly complex, which, also typical of postmodernists, hides the fact that the author is substantively ignorant of the topic and has no insight to offer. If you can sort through the jargon, this book basically argues that serial murders would not happen if we just ignored the killers, because they are part of a "discursive" loop, in which the killers are a sort of performer who kill to please their audience, which is the public. The author is oblivious to work done in psychology, criminology, sociology, and FBI investigations. Overall, the book is a flight from reality, which would be humorous if the topic were not so serious.
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When i started this book, i thought I'd frequently find myself depressed by the subject at hand. Serial killers - depressing stuff, right? However, Tithecott deconstructs the mythology of the serial killer in such an utterly non-sensationalizing manner, it could almost be described as "refreshing" considering the way this (patriarchal) phenomenon is usually approached in popular-culture.

This book went far beyond what i imagined it would cover as well. It delved into subjects like the discourse surrounding law-enforcement (of clean/dirty binaries that posit police as agents of "public sanitation", who use non-psychiatric/'feminine' modes of addressing criminality), the significance of cannibalism within the public sphere, how the actions of serial killers' are naturalized (by being described as "without motive", "random", or even "unspeakable" - instead of perhaps racist, classicist, homophobic or misogynistic) and how this normalizing language does nothing to dismantle (or can even perpetuate) the destructive reality of individualistic masculine-power fantasies abundantly circulated in contemporary North American society... amongst many, many, many, many other things - too many to even try listing.

In short, this text covers A LOT in under a 200 pages and has a bibliography i will definitely look upon if i ever want to pursue these subjects further.

Perhaps this is part of the reason book reviewers of the past have found this text "needlessly complex". Admittedly, the first chapter in particular took some time to adjust to, because the author directly quotes A LOT of different sources. The frequent citing of names & quotation marks made staying focused on the ideas difficult at times. It would have been nice to see more liberties taken with paraphrasing, but perhaps that is an issue of copyright & less of writing style.
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4 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 9, 2001
This is the finest book on the subject, addressing not what serial killers ARE but why we make them the way they are, how they function for us, and why we need them. The prose is witty, direct, and precise; the argument is more chilling than any horror story.
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