The James Naremore Lecture with Richard Dyer
- 75 Minutes
- Thursday, February 26, 2015 4:00 p.m.
THE SHADOW OF M:
Serial killing is an extraordinarily rare form of murder and yet it has been widely seen be symptomatic of the societies and historical moments in which it occurs. Even though there are strong reasons not to equate them, serial killing has often been seen to be at one end of a spectrum of which the Nazi mass exterminations are the other. This presentation explores these two issues in representation, taking off from the film M.
Serial Killing and Nazism in Film
M has been a constant reference point since its release in 1931, not least through the use of the image of the killer’s shadow. Serial killers have been seen as symptomatic of the cinema and society of the Weimar Republic, including in debates about whether Weimar gave birth to Nazism. Weimar cinema is often an irresistible source of imagery for films dealing with serial killing in both the Weimar and the Nazi eras. It has been used to distinguish Nazism from serial killing (not least, but not only, by Nazi propaganda) and to suggest a continuity between them. In the range of uses, and often their contradictoriness, Nazi serial killer films raise the question of what is at stake of wanting to make the connection at all.
Films to be touched on include Der ewige Jude, Die Mörder sind unter uns, Der Verlorene, Nachts, wenn der Teufel kam, Le Vampire de Düsseldorf, Die Zärtlichkeit der Wolfe, Dr. Petiot and Hitler: ein Film aus Deutschland. The presentation will be followed by a screening of Nachts, wenn Der Teufel kam (The Devil Strikes at Night) (Robert Siodmak 1957) at 6:30 pm.
Richard Dyer is a Professor of Film Studies at King’s College London. He has an MA in French with German, English and Philosophy from St. Andrews University, with his PhD in English from the University of Birmingham in the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies. He has had multiple visiting professorships across the U.S and Europe. His research interests include entertainment, representation and the relationship between them, as well as music and film (including melodrama), Italian cinema (especially in its popular forms) and gay, lesbian, and queer cultures.
Indiana University’s Department of Communication and Culture presents the James Naremore Lecture, which is dedicated to continuing the tradition of scholarly excellence and honoring the similar breadth and depth in the work of other pre-eminent scholars in the field of media studies. James O. Naremore is Chancellors’ Professor Emeritus in Communication and Culture, English, and Comparative Literature at Indiana University.
Photo of Richard Dyer by Greg Funnell.