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Cinematic constructions of the female serial killer: A psychosocial audience study

Cohen, Rachel 2012. Cinematic constructions of the female serial killer: A psychosocial audience study. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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This project explores the ways in which film viewers engage with and respond to cinematic constructions of the female serial killer, focusing closely upon the story of Aileen Wuornos, who was executed in 2002 for the murders of seven men. Three key film texts - Monster (Patty Jenkins, 2003), Aileen: The Selling of A Serial Killer (Nick Broomfield, 1992) and Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer (Nick Broomfield, 2003) - are used as the basis for this study. Arguing that the psychodynamic complexities of the spectatorial encounter are inadequately theorised by many existing Screen theory and cultural studies accounts, I conduct a series of in-depth free-association narrative/biographical interpretive interviews (Hollway and Jefferson 2000a, Wengraf 2001) with fourteen participants. In doing so, I demonstrate how individuals are psychosocially and biographically motivated to “invest” in the three film texts on both conscious and unconscious levels. Drawing upon object-relations psychoanalysis (and Kleinian theory, in particular), I explore the unconscious anxieties, conflicts and phantasies that also bear significantly upon my participants’ filmic investments. I find that these investments are made meaningful in relation to dominant cultural ideologies and “norms”, but that they are also powerfully informed by participants’ own biographical experiences. This thesis therefore makes a valuable contribution to the field of audience studies, by providing a more nuanced understanding of the film-viewing process.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Journalism, Media and Culture
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1993 Motion Pictures
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 04:57

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