Het Phillips, University of Birmingham, will explore the representation of the Moors Murderers and the Yorkshire Ripper in pop culture in our latest research seminar.

Canterbury Christ Church University
School of Media Art and Design
Research Seminars 2016-2017
3 May 2017
Powell Building – Pf06
North Holmes Road Campus

Intertext, Anxiety, Iconography: Mapping the Meaning of the Moors Murderers and Yorkshire Ripper in Popular Music and Culture
Speaker: Het Phillips, University of Birmingham

This lecture will use popular-musical representations of the ‘Moors Murders’ and ‘Yorkshire Ripper’ cases as case studies to examine the ways that pop culture has responded to and shaped, firstly, the figure of the celebrity murderer in general, secondly, the mythology surrounding these crimes specifically, and thirdly, designations of what is considered exceptional and what as ‘ordinary’ violence. In so-doing I will examine ways in which such self-consciously ‘rebellious’ forms construct themselves as questioning official history and respectable interests.

Featured in songs from punk, industrial and indie music from the 1970s to the present day, these killers’ proliferation as musical cultural commodities has emerged alongside the development of ‘alternative’ popular music and out of (and in turn fed back into) its mixed and often self-contradictory concerns around authenticity, fame, image, commodity, self-expression and transgression.

Drawing on Professor Lisa Downing’s work on the construction of the figure of the murderer as exceptional, as overlapping with the figure of the artist, and as the epitome of the individualised neoliberal subject (The Subject of Murder, 2013), and David Schmid’s analysis of the particular cultural forces that have shaped the modern serial killer into the apparently obvious and self-evident figure of fame and fascination (Natural Born Celebrities, 2006), I will demonstrate that the construction of these celebrity killers and that of the celebrity musician share many important facets and are mutually self-supporting in their mythologies and the kinds of cultural intertext they draw upon to create and maintain their exceptionality and commodity status as society’s ultimate outsider insiders.

Het Philips is a doctoral researcher at the School of Languages, Cultures, Art History and Music, University of Birmingham, and her research interests include Graham Greene, Muriel Spark, James Joyce, marginal landscapes, the uncanny, hauntings, the body and late twentieth/early twenty-first century popular music.

Powell Building – Pf06
North Holmes Road Campus
Email Dr Andrew Butler – Andrew.Butler@canterbury.ac.uk – for further details
— All welcome —