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Becoming Animal/Human: trauma and posthumanism in serial killer fiction

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posted on 2023-08-30, 20:24 authored by Katelin Wall
This thesis investigates the literary characterisation of the serial killer as an antihero through a framework of posthumanity. This thesis undertakes a textual discourse analysis by exploring how three serial texts (Hannibal, Dexter, and Huntress) indicate that posthumanity is initiated and developed through dialogue and gesture. This thesis examines the spaces of ‘becoming’ Animal/Human and how this shift encompasses various cultural perceptions of ‘Otherness’. By using a hybrid and non-linear approach to identity construction, this thesis provides cultural context for understanding complex terms such as trauma, hunting or predation, and change or ‘becoming’. Drawing on the work of Jacques Derrida, Gilles Deleuze, and Felix Guattari, characterisation can be understood through structures of non-linearity and rhizomic conceptualisation. As such, the character is in a transitionary state of hybridity, changed as a result of trauma, but continuing to ‘become’ Animal/Human through embracing gestures of their new duality. Considering how fiction creates a literary understanding for thinking more deeply about trauma, identity, and ethics, this thesis creates a new perspective on conceptualising deviance. Ultimately through this representation, this thesis analyses how complex language and symbols are used to expose opposition and cohesion and close readings reveal that these serial killers exist in a state of hybridity which can be analysed through Mikhail Bakhtin’s theory of the grotesque and through a cultural perspective of post- theories. The serial killer in fiction is non-linearly positioned between life and death, between good and evil, between animal and human, and between fantasy and reality. Ultimately, the ambiguous complexity of the serial killer as an Animal/Human hybrid allows for a reading of the figure as grotesque and culturally fascinating.



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