The Functions of Unnatural Death in Stephen King: Murder, Sickness, and Plots

The Functions of Unnatural Death in Stephen King: Murder, Sickness, and Plots examines over thirty of King’s works and looks at the character deaths within them, placing them first within the chronology of the plot and then assigning them a function. Death is horrific and perhaps the only universal horror because it comes to us all. Stephen King, known as the Master of Horror, rarely writes without including death in his works. However, he keeps death from being repetitious or fully expected because of the ways in which he plays with the subject, maintaining what he himself has called a childlike approach to death. Although character deaths are a constant, the narrative function of those deaths changes depending on their placement within the plot.

By separating out the purposes of early deaths from those that come during the rising action or during the climax, this book examines the myriad ways character deaths in King can affect surviving characters and therefore the plot. Even though character deaths are frequent and hardly ever occur only once in a book, King’s varying approaches to, and uses of, these deaths show how he continues to play with both the subject and its facets of horror throughout his work.

Rowman & LittlefieldAmazon


Surviving Stephen King: Reactions to the Supernatural in Works by the Master of Horror

Stephen King frequently places his human characters in danger against a supernatural antagonist. These characters, being realists of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, must first overcome their disbelief at what is happening to them, and then decide what to do about it. Both their explanations for the strange happenings and their attempts to deal with them can be divided into four main categories: cultural appropriation; Christianity, especially Catholic rites; attempts at utter destruction; and a resignation to simply live—or die—with the supernatural intact. This book examines over 30 of King’s works, revealing that the overall success of the characters in removing the supernatural threat from their towns, or perhaps defeating it entirely, does not depend fully on which of these four paths of action they choose. It is possible for any attempt to destroy the supernatural threat to fail, and what works in one of King’s books will not have the same outcome in another. For King, the most likely success comes when his characters can choose a course of action that allows them to stand and be true to themselves.


MatMMedia and the Murderer: Jack the Ripper, Steven Avery and an Enduring Formula for Notoriety

Some criminals become household names, while others—even those who seek recognition through their crimes—are forgotten. The criminal’s actions are only a part of every famous true crime story. Other factors, such as the setting and circumstances of the crimes and the ways in which others take control of the narrative, ultimately drive their notoriety. Through a comparison of the tellings and retellings of two famous cases more than a century apart—the Jack the Ripper killings in 1888, and the murder trials of Steven Avery as documented in Making a Murderer—this book examines the complicated dynamics of criminal celebrity.


WoaMWords of a Monster: Analyzing the Writings of H.H. Holmes, America’s First Serial Killer

Decades before the term “serial killer” was coined, H.H. Holmes murdered dozens of people in his now-infamous Chicago “Murder Castle.” In his autobiography, Holmes struggled to define himself in the language of the late nineteenth century. As the “first”—or, as he labeled himself, “The Greatest Criminal of the Age”—he had no one to compare himself to, and no ready-made biographical structure to follow. Holmes was thus nearly able to invent himself from scratch. This book minutely inspects how Holmes represented himself in his writings and confessions. Although the legitimacy of Holmes’ accounts have been called into question, his biography mirrors the narrative structure of the true crime genre that emerged decades after his death.


RViPThe Ripper’s Victims in Print: The Rhetoric of Portrayals Since 1929

Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Katherine Eddowes and Mary Jane Kelly—the five known victims of Jack the Ripper—are among the most written-about women in history. Hundreds of books on the Ripper murders describe their deaths in detail. Yet they themselves remain as mysterious as their murderer. This first ever study of the victims surveys the Ripper literature to reveal what is known about their lives, how society viewed them at the time of their deaths, and how attitudes and perceptions of them have (or have not) changed since the Victorian era.

McFarland Amazon

Chapters in Edited Collections

‘This Mad Brute’: Postwar Male Violence and the Pathological Public Sphere in Home Front in the American Heartland: Local Experiences and Legacies of WWI (Cambridge — Amazon)

“Something Feels Weird:” Managing the Identity of “Ex-Con” in American Gods in Criminals as Heroes in Popular Culture (Palgrave — Amazon)

The Truth Inside the Lie: It and the Evolution of the Serial Killer in The Many Lives of IT: Essays on the Stephen King Horror Franchise (McFarland — Amazon)

Razors, Bumper Stickers, and Wheelchairs: Male Violence and Madness in Rose Madder and Mr. Mercedes in The Modern Stephen King Canon: Beyond Horror (Rowman & Littlefield — Amazon)

A Different Breed: Stephen King’s Serial Killers in Stephen King’s Contemporary Classics: Reflections on the Modern Master of Horror (Contemporary American Literature) (Rowman & Littlefield — Amazon)

My Dissertation

Identity and Ritual: The American Consumption of True Crime

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