David Schmid, Professor of English
In his work, David Schmid, professor of English, focuses on those whom we perceive as “monsters” and the role they play in our perceptions of ourselves as individual and social beings. His initial work focused on serial killers as American popular culture figures; he also studies how our society safely represents and addresses the anxieties of our time through the use of other monsters, such as zombies and vampires.
Schmid is the author of “Natural Born Celebrities: Serial Killers in American Culture,” “True Crime,” “The Devil You Know: Dexter and the ‘Goodness’ of American Serial Killing,” and other works on noir novels, murderabilia and murder culture. “I’ve always believed that violence and celebrity both provide great windows into the workings of a society. In other words, show me what criminals are famous in a particular culture and I can tell you a lot about that culture’s values and what makes it tick.”
“The monsters I’m most interested in are the ones that exist in plain sight,” Schmid says. “Sure, I write about the traditional Halloween and pop culture fare – zombies, vampires and so on – but I never want to lose sight of the fact that the most distinctive and numerous monsters in any culture are the ones that we don’t immediately recognize.
“I conduct research on killers and their place in our cultural imagination but I also want to extend that focus to other monstrous figures and institutions: those whose apparent normality makes them no less destructive and murderous: the abusers at Abu Ghraib, the banks that are destroying lives while reaping record profits and the corporations who are poisoning the planet for their bottom line.”