Serial killing and the postmodern self

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Mark Seltzer has claimed that the serial killer is a ‘flashpoint’ in contemporary society, signifying a new kind of self. In contrast to the modern self, established through institutionalised routines, serial killer asserts their identity through ecstatic interpenetration. Although Seltzer’s description of the serial killer is compelling, Seltzer fails to consider the institutional context in which this new self is possible. This article seeks to address the lacuna in Seltzer’s account. Drawing on Jameson’s famous account of postmodernism, this article claims that commodity consumption constitutes the critical medium which facilitates the serial killer’s ecstatic interpenetrations. In this way, the serial killer represents a self which is consistent with the colonisation of interpersonal relations by multinational capital. The serial killer signifies the appearance of a postmodern self.

Key Words: Serial killing, postmodernity, self, identity, consumption

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