Ted Bundy vs. Hannibal Lecter: An Exploration of Factual and Fictional Serial Murderers from the Mid-20th to Early-21st Centuries

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Serial murder is by no means a postmodern phenomenon exclusive to the United States. There are many documented cases of serial murder in various parts of the world prior to the twentieth-century, and countless more have occurred since. For example, Hickey (1985) found 47 serial murderer cases in foreign countries and Smith (1987) describes a number of serial murderers from southern and southeast Asia, Europe, and England. One of the most well-known cases of serial murder is by London’s unidentified “Jack the Ripper” who killed several prostitutes in 1888 (Seltzer 1998). Despite the abundance of universal cases, the American fascination with serial murder, especially the individual offenders of these crimes, has increased dramatically within the past 50 years. The crime of serial murder is discussed in the media via talk shows and news reports, is portrayed in fictional books and Hollywood films, and is studied at length by academic scholars. More remarkable is the individual serial murderer as an American pop culture icon. Beyond the ordinary biographies and documentaries there exists a whole subset of commodities created to glamorize the serial murderer, such as trading cards, comic books, magazines, and “murderabilia” (Fox and Levin 2005). Additionally, certain serial murderers receive recognition and fame through the mainstream media. For example, Jeffery Dahmer was on the cover of People and was chosen by this magazine as one of its “25 Most Intriguing People of 1991” (Fox and Levin 1994).



Serial murder, Real Life, Characters from Literature, Fictional Characters, Serial Killers, Sociology Thesis