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School of Arts and Media

Dr Abby Bentham

Lecturer in English and Theatre


I have taught at the University of Salford since 2014, first as an Associate Lecturer then as Lecturer in English and Theatre. I have also taught at Keele University and worked as a freelance journalist, writing predominantly for crime magazines. Beyond the university, I lead an annual, international conference on Evil Women: Women and Evil and am a board member at Progressive Connexions, a not-for-profit network that runs global, interdisciplinary research projects. In my spare time, I volunteer at The Pankhurst Centre in Manchester.


In addition to my academic and writing work, I have more than 15 years’ commercial experience, gained as an account director, consultant and copywriter in a variety of advertising, marketing and PR agencies in London and the north west. The diverse strands of my working life to date are united by a common focus on written and visual communication and their power to entertain, educate, move and influence.


I convene and teach on the core Level 4 module Performance in Context and the optional Level 5 module Literature, Adaptation and the Screen. I also teach, or have taught, on: Narrative Fiction and the Novel (Level 4); Theory and Practice (Level 4); Critical and Textual Studies (Level 4); The Test of Evil (Level 5); Utopias & Dystopias (Level 5); The Female Gothic (Level 5); 21st Century Women’s Writing (Level 5); Writing Sex and Gender (Level 7).

Research Interests

My research interrogates representations of aberrant psychology and crime on stage, page and screen, with a particular focus on the creative techniques that encourage empathetic identification with challenging and transgressive figures. My broader research interests include gender, psychoanalysis, evil, the aesthetics of violence, true crime, and popular culture.

Qualifications and Memberships

PGCAP. University of Salford, 2020.

PhD. Thesis: ‘Empathy for the Devil: The Poetics of Identification in Psychopath Fiction.’ University of Salford, 2014.

MA: Literature, Culture, and Modernity. Dissertation: ‘Negotiating Masculinity in Crime Films of the New Hollywood Period.’ University of Salford, 2009.

BA (Hons): English. University of Hull, 1997.

International Crime Fiction Association

Madness & Literature Network

International Gothic Association

Crime Studies Network

Association of Adaptation Studies



Selected Publications

‘Art or Science? Formulating Empathy in Breaking Bad.’ Exploring Empathy: Perimeters, Propagations and Positionings, edited by Charles King, Rebeccah Nelems, and Lincoln Theo. Leiden: Brill, 2018.

‘Summons and Repulsion: The Curious Appeal of Tony Soprano.’ Crime Uncovered: Anti-Heroes, edited by Fiona Peters and Rebecca Stewart. Bristol: Intellect, 2015. (Collection shortlisted for a CrimeFest award)

‘Uncertainty Principle: The Locus of Empathy in Breaking Bad.’ Encountering Empathy: Interrogating the Past, Envisioning the Future, edited by Veronica Wain and Paulus Pimono. Oxford Interdisciplinary Press, 2015.

‘The Serial Killer in American Popular Culture.’ Violence in American Popular Culture, edited by David Schmid. Westport: Praeger, 2015. 

‘Thomas Harris: Death’s Head.’ Critical Insights: The Thriller, edited by Gary Hoppenstand. Pasadena & Hackensack: Salem Press, 2014.

‘Dexter: Psychopathic Monster, or Rational Response to Bewildering Modernity?’ Monstrous Manifestations, edited by Karen Graham and Agnieszka Stasiewicz-Bienkowska. Oxford: Inter-Disciplinary Press, 2013.

Selected Conference Papers

08/2019 ‘Angels and Monsters: Female Relationships in Megan Abbott’s Noir’, GIRLS! GIRLS! GIRLS! Defining and Deconstructing Domestic Noir Conference, Trinity College Dublin.

06/2018 ‘Gender in Megan Abbott’s Neo-Noir’, Captivating Criminality Conference, Corsham, Bath Spa University.

05/2018 ‘Lunar Park and the Bifurcated Self’, Madness, Mental Illness and Mind Doctors in 20th and 21st Century Pop Culture Conference, University of Edinburgh. 

08/2015 ‘Ian Brady: Act and Discourse’, Murder: Moral Panic, Mythos, Modernity Conference, Oxford,

06/2015 ‘True Detective and Metafictive, Sunlit Noir’, Captivating Criminality Conference, Corsham, Bath Spa University. 

11/2014 ‘Uncertainty Principle: The Locus of Empathy in Breaking Bad’, First Global Conference: Empathy, Prague,

06/2014 ‘Cold Blood, Warm Heart: Truman Capote and the Transformation of the Psychopath’, True Crime: Fact, Fiction, Ideology Conference, Manchester, Hic Dragones.

04/2013 ‘Let Us Prey: Capitalism, Consumption and Culture in Jim Thompson’s The Getaway’, Cannibals: Cannibalism, Consumption and Culture Conference, Manchester, Hic Dragones.

09/2012 ‘Dexter: Psychopathic Monster, or Rational Response to Bewildering Modernity?’, 10th Global Conference: Monsters and Monstrosity, Oxford,

04/2012 ‘The Monster in Me: On Cultural Fascination with the Fictional Psychopath’, Monsters: Subject, Object, Abject Conference, Manchester, Hic Dragones.

10/2010 ‘The Eyes Have It: Visions of the Psychopath in Faulkner’s Sanctuary’, Northern Modernism Seminar, Salford, University of Salford.

06/2010 ‘The Lure of the Psychopath in Dickens’s Little Dorrit’, Mental Health Symposium, Salford, University of Salford.

Conference Organisation

12/2019 Evil Women: Women and Evil. Prague, Progressive Connexions.

12/2018 Evil Women: Women and Evil. Vienna, Progressive Connexions.

08/2015 Murder: Moral Panic, Mythos, Modernity. Mansfield College, Oxford,


Advisory Boards / Steering Groups

2018-present: Progressive Connexions Management Board of Advisors

2018-present: Global Evil Project, Progressive Connexions (Development Team member)

2018-present: Global Evil Women: Women and Evil Project, Progressive Connexions (Organising Chair)

2015: Global Murder Project, (Steering Group leader) 

2014: Global Empathy Project, (Steering Group member)

Peer Reviewing and Guest Editorships

Peer reviewer for New Horizons in English Studies, Maria Curie-Sklodowska University, Lublin, Poland.

Peer reviewer for HARTS & Minds, Postgraduate Journal of the Humanities and Arts, University of Bristol, UK.

Co-Guest Editor on Issue 2:2, ‘Crime and Concealment,’ of HARTS & Minds. Published August 2015.