Ettler 2012 Psycho

Title Information

Author: Justine Ettler

Title: The Best Ellis for Business

Subtitle: A Re-Examination of the Mass Media Feminist Critique of American Psycho

Thesis: Ph.D. Thesis, University of Sydney

Year: 2012

Pages: 356pp.

Language: English

Keywords: 20th Century, 21st Century | U.S. History | Representations: Literature / Brett Easton Ellis

Full Text

Link: Sydney eScholarship Repository [Free Access]

Additional Information


»The Best Ellis For Business analyses the mass media feminist critique of Bret Easton Ellis’s third novel, American Psycho (1991), and employs this to challenge the dominant modes of reading Ellis’s work. The thesis identifies the major shifts in literary criticism about American Psycho, both journalistic and scholarly, and discusses them in relation to the novel’s problematic sexualisation of misogynistic violence. In particular, the neutralisation of the mass media feminist critique in scholarly literary criticism is questioned, then contextualised in terms of the backlash, and finally linked to postmodern defences of the novel that ignore the important role played by the reader. The thesis employs a mixture of narratological and theoretical approaches to perform close readings of the sexually violent scenes.
The thesis challenges dominant defences of American Psycho such as the ubiquitous defence of the novel as a satire, as well as the equally prevalent defence of the novel as a postmodern classic. The formalist qualities of the novel, which this thesis claims make it a postmodern parody, prevent the novel from ever being read as a straightforward satire. Further, analyses that focus on the novel’s form at the expense of its content tend to fail to account for the reader’s response to the sexualised violence. This thesis raises the oft-ignored but important issue of reader competence, particularly in relation to the marketing practices of Ellis’s corporate publishers. It will also be argued here that the novel’s excessive ambiguity leaves the reader no choice other than to resort to their biographical knowledge of the author in order to make sense of it. Thus, the thesis rereads the novel in relation to Ellis’s biography, as well as in relation to Ellis’s recent revelations about his sexuality and his interview practice.« (Source: Thesis)


  Abstract (p. 4)
  Acknowledgements (p. 5)
  Introduction: The Squeakiest Wheel (p. 7)
    1. Realism and Autobiography in Early Novels (p. 17)
    2. Literary Institutions (p. 30)
    3. Backlash (p. 49)
    4. Feminist Definitions (p. 58)
    5. Doctoral Dissertations (p. 60)
  Chapter 1: "Sex Sells, Dude": The Feminist Critique 1990-1998 (p. 63)
    1. Overview of the Controversy (p. 65)
    2. Wolf's Review (p. 73)
    3. Supporters of Wolf (p. 79)
    4. Defenders (p. 95)
    5. The Recency Effect (p. 104)
  Chapter 2: The Baby and the Bathwater: The Feminist Critique 1999-2012 (p. 122)
    1: Those Who Continue Wolf (p. 129)
    2: Harron and Turner's Feminist Adaptation (p. 154)
  Chapter 3: Protesting Too Much: Satire and Parody (p. 174)
  Chapter 4: The Wood and the Trees: The Realist Critique and the Postmodernism and Affective Defences (p. 224)
    1: The Realist Critique (p. 228)
    2: The Postmodern Defence (p. 250)
    3: The Affect Defence (p. 266)
  Chapter 5: The Proof and the Pudding: Ambiguity and the Homosexual Subplot (p. 275)
    1: Ambiguity and the Unreliable Narrator (p. 276)
    2: Autobiographical Readings and the Homosexual Subplot (p. 294)
  Bibliography (p. 331)

Wikipedia: Brett Easton Ellis, American Psycho

Added: May 24, 2014 | Last updated: May 24, 2014