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Villainous Victims: Redefining the Anti-Hero from a Postmodern Perspective

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Mary Immaculate College

Limerick

Ireland

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#VillainousVictims2018

Where monsters and other gothic villains are often seen as adversaries, Stephen T. Asma chooses to deconstruct this familiar perspective, and introduces the concept of the ‘accidental monster’. His research underscores that both literary and real villains are not intuitively immoral, but that external influences turn them toward malevolence. The deligitmated villain adheres to the concept of ‘Tabula Rasa’, a theory surmised by John Locke. This revelation suggests how our consciousness is a “blank slate” and after the moment of birth, life experiences fill in this vacant space, shaping one’s personality and character. The anti-hero is therefore not born evil, but is conditioned by external forces, learning only degenerative behaviour from the human race.

Thus, the status of the villain being seen as aggressor is no longer sufficient to completely explain their actions as the lack of nurture in their life can be seen as a catalyst that fuels one’s revenge-filled actions. On the basis of society’s understanding of monstrosity, an analysis can be made on the official practices of exclusion and marginalisation of social elements. It is not the fault of the subject from turning down a path of darkness; rather it is the failure of society to provide a space for them within what is deemed as the status quo. When analysed with postmodern eyes, one can move away from the linear perspective of the good/evil dichotomy. The reader is introduced to the marginalised narrative of the villain or the anti-hero where their immoral behaviour could be rooted in them being cut off from positive emotional responses and severed from the functioning of all society. It is consequent of society’s prejudiced stance and perspective that disallows the dark outsider to enter the realm of cultural norms.

The anti-hero therefore exists as the cultural Other, as a victim of society, marginalised because of its failure to be categorised. The condition of ‘Otherness’ results in the subject being alienated from the centre of society, and being placed at the margins of inclusiveness and acceptance. The purpose of this conference is to shed a light on the darker aspects of humanity and their exclusory role in marginalising anyone that situates themselves outside the norm. Therefore, this underlines the demonisation of the “Other”, in the image of the anti-hero, as a political device for scapegoating those whom the rules of society deem impure or unworthy - the transgressors and deviants. The Creature’s deviation from the accepted path compels society to clip his wings, disallowing him the privilege of sharing any bond with human beings, ultimately becoming the ‘fallen angel’.


Keynote speaker: Dr Matthew Foley, Manchester Metropolitan University

Dr Foley's paper is entitled: ''She wouldn't even harm a fly': American Gothic, antiheroes, and the ethics of the villainous voice'


All information can be found on the Villainous Victims website: https://villainousvictims.wixsite.com/villainous-victims


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Mary Immaculate College

Limerick

Ireland

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