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Happy like profilers: Gordon Burn, modernity and serial killing

Cummins, ID and King, M 2014, 'Happy like profilers: Gordon Burn, modernity and serial killing' , International Journal of Criminology and Sociological Theory, 7 (3) .

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Haggerty (2009) has outlined the ways, in which, “serial killers” can be seen as a product of modernity. In particular, he highlights the ways, in which, a symbiotic relationship has developed between the media and “serial killers”. A significant feature in this new firmament is the psychological profiler. From Cracker onwards, the psychological profiler has become a key feature of the TV crime drama. As Dowleer et al ( 2006) note the line between reporting crime and crime as entertainment is a very blurred one. The viewer is just as likely to come across a “psychological profile” on a “news” programme such as Crimewatch as in a TV drama.Trevor Hardy was convicted of the brutal murder of three young women Janet Stewart (15), Wanda Skalia (18) and Sharon Mosoph (17) in 1977. He has been given a whole life tariff so will never be released. Despite this, Wilson et al (2010) highlight the fact that the case is not that well-known and consider the reasons for this. This paper argues that this approach is an extension of the medical- psychological discourse, which concentrates on generating a comforting taxonomy of serial killers. It goes on to argue that this approach marginalises the suffering of the victims and the cataclysmic impact that these events have on the lives of their loved ones. The novelist, Gordon Burn, has explored the nature of modern celebrity. He has also examined in extensive details the environments that produced Peter Sutcliffe (Somebody’s Husband, Somebody’s Son) and the Wests (Happy like Murderers). As an alternative to the profiler approach, which focuses on the perpetrator and marignalises victims and their families, the work of Burn – in particular his novel Alma Cogan is examined in depth. This disturbing novel challenges the ways, in which, celebrity is constructed. By so doing, it forces the reader to confront not only the full brutality of sexual violence but also their own complicity in the “serial killing industry

Item Type: Article
Themes: Memory, Text and Place
Schools: Schools > School of Nursing, Midwifery, Social Work & Social Sciences > Centre for Nursing, Midwifery, Social Work & Social Sciences Research
Journal or Publication Title: International Journal of Criminology and Sociological Theory
Publisher: York University
Refereed: Yes
ISSN: 1916-2782
Funders: Non funded research
Depositing User: ID Cummins
Date Deposited: 24 Mar 2015 10:42
Last Modified: 29 Oct 2015 00:33

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