Series of online masterclasses hosted by Glyndŵr University will delve into how modern culture portrays notorious criminals
True crime enthusiasts can explore how some of the world’s most infamous killers are portrayed on the big screen – and why so many people are fascinated with such heinous crimes – at a series of interactive online events from Wrexham Glyndŵr University.
Ted Bundy, Charles Manson and Aileen Wournos are among the notorious murderers featured in the ‘Lights, Crime, Action!’ masterclasses.
The masterclasses – which use movies to explore issues surrounding the cases – will be released every Friday for four weeks, with a live Q&A session from 7-8pm on the following Monday evening.
Tegan Brierley-Solis, Graduate Teaching Assistant in Criminology at WGU, said: “Each masterclass is going to be based on serial consumerism of serial killers in contemporary society – how there’s this fascination with serial killers and it’s a big business in the culture industry.”
The first masterclass will be available on Friday, July 17 and discusses Ted Bundy, who killed at least 30 women and girls across the USA in the 1970s.
It will focus on the recent Netflix movie Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, starring Zac Efron – and how movies glamourise such killers.
With his good looks and charm, Bundy was able to fool victims into a false sense of security before he struck. Tegan explained how Bundy’s charm and good looks contributed to what criminologists call the ‘Halo Effect’ on the courtroom and the public.
She said: “How Bundy presented himself in court is fascinating to watch actually, because a lot of people swooned after him and said they thought he was innocent. His trial was public and, when prompted, some onlookers dubbed his crimes scary but still commented on his looks.
“Once Bundy was found guilty the judge even said he would have made a terrific lawyer and that he would’ve loved to have had him practice before his court.”
The next masterclass (available from July 24) will offer an insight into how cinema portrays cults and control. It will focus on 2018 movie Charlie Says, which follows a prison psychiatrist’s efforts to help three young women brainwashed into committing mass murder by cult leader Charles Manson (played by Dr Who star Matt Smith) in California in 1969.
Aileen Wournos – who killed five men in the late 80s and early 90s – is the subject of the masterclass released on July 31.
Monster, starring Charlize Theron, will be used to help explore the depiction of female serial killers and those falling outside of an ‘Ideal Victim’ status.
“We’re going to look at her representation in the film and the way that the film reveals a vulnerable side, as a victim herself.
“Aileen Wournos’ victims aren’t what you’d call ideal victims in criminology, because they were middle-aged men and not viewed as weak.
The final masterclass, released on August 7, will delve into the world of Alfredo Ballí Treviño, an Italian surgeon who inspired author Thomas Harris to create Dr. Hannibal Lecter, the anti-hero of numerous books and movies.
“In the film the Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal Lecter had killed a lot of people, but in reality Trevino killed one person – his wife,” Tegan said.
“The masterclass is going to focus on how the media might exaggerate cases, and we’re going to look at the predatory portrayal of serial killers because there’s a lot of references to animals and animalistic nature in the movie.”
The university has previously held face-to-face short courses on notorious crimes and killers, but the COVID-19 pandemic prompted the criminology team to try an online alternative and potentially reach a wider audience through masterclasses.
If the sessions are successful, the Criminology team hopes to hold masterclasses on how serial killers are portrayed in TV series and books.
The masterclasses cover several themes that feature in the BA (Hons) Criminology & Criminal Justice programme at WGU.
To book a place on a masterclass, search for ‘Lights, Crime, Action!’ at www.eventbrite.co.uk
For more information on studying criminology and criminal justice at Wrexham Glyndŵr University, visit: https://www.glyndwr.ac.uk/en/Undergraduatecourses/CriminologyandCriminalJustice/
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