Book review: Cannibalism in Literature and Film

Research output: Contribution to journalBook/Film/Article reviewpeer-review


Book details: Cannibalism in Literature and Film by Jennifer Brown (2013, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 272 pp.; ISBN: 978-0-230-36051-8). 
Cannibalism, as both a crime and cultural subject, is heavily steeped in taboo and stigma. The use of the word in Jennifer Brown’s Cannibalism in Literature and Film unavoidably partakes in this process of recollection. Brown’s main thesis centres on recognising the cannibal as an allegorical figure capable of harbouring a vast array of values and relevancies through its continued othering. Part One investigates the figure of the colonial cannibal. By Part Two, Brown has begun to introduce the concept that the cannibal figure is moving from an external force situated in the darkest regions of colonial jungles to an internal metaphor for our own Western failings. Recognising Bush’s position of power within one of the world’s most influential cities allows us to move forward and discuss the book’s final section. Brown’s text usefully removes the study of cannibalism from the dominance of low cultural and low budget texts, and refreshingly exposes the permeability of the concept by mapping its appearance in high, middle and low cultural environs. By combining three centuries of cannibalistic depictions, Brown charts an expansive history which ultimately acts as a valuable entrance point in the study of the fictional cannibal. The correlation Brown finds between the cannibal’s portrayal and the cultural, political, religious and geographical othering of certain peoples by the dominant Western media is hard to ignore; in short, Brown’s book is an important addition to the broader scholarly canon.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)82-84
Number of pages3
JournalCrime, Media, Culture: An International Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 20 Mar 2015


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