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The Subject of MurderGender, Exceptionality, and the Modern Killer$
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Lisa Downing

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780226003405

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226003689.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
The Subject of Murder

Lisa Downing

University of Chicago Press

This book examines the persona of a killer, and how those subjects who kill have been treated by modern culture as unique and exceptional individuals. Such discourses, by highlighting the exceptionality of the “individual,” effectively silence gender-aware, class-based analyses about murder. Analyses of this kind might notice which category of person, usually the male, may “legitimately” occupy the role of killer, and which category of person, usually the female, is more generally relegated to the role of victim in our culture. By extension, female murderers become doubly aberrant exceptions in this culture, unable to access the role of transcendental agency since only men are allowed to be transcendent, while women are immanent. The ways in which—and purposes for which—murderers are seen as an exceptional type of subject by our culture is the central problem this book seeks to address.

Keywords:   persona, exceptional individuals, killer, victim, female murderers, transcendental agency, culture

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