Laura Palmer: A Monstrosity of Multiple Meanings

Research output: Contribution to book/anthology/report/conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Cocooned in plastic and bejewled with tiny pebbles, the corpse of Laura Palmer of David Lynch and Mark Frost's Twin Peaks (1990-1991) counters Julia Kristeva's definition of the abject cadaver. Instead of displaying signs of decay, Laura's corpse mirrors the iconic photograph of her in full Homecoming Queen regalia. Further, Laura echoes Edgar Allan Poe's concept of the female corpse as an aesthetic object, as her beautiful dead body provokes necrophiliac desires; death has not diminshed the sexual prowess of this lethal seductress. As this chapter explains, the confluence of tragedy and beauty proves a trademark of Lynch's, as his films portray 'troubled women.' Laura contains traces of other Lynchian females in trouble as well as elements of an abandoned project on Marilyn Monroe. Simultaneously deceased and ever-present, through doppelgängers, Laura defies logic ans signifies chaos by displaying both a lack of and an over-abundance of meaning. This chapter suggests that the numerous cultural references to written and visual texts such as, for instance, Victor Fleming's The Wizard of Oz (1939), Otto Preminger's Laura (944), Grace Metalious's Peyton Place (1956), and Stanley Kubrick's Lolita (1962) found in Twin Peaks cause Laura to become a monstrosity of multiple meanings, as evinced by her demonic transformation, warding off Agent Cooper/viewers trying to solve her mystery. Laura's simultaneous invitation to and struggle against the investigation of her secrets further complicate any critical analysis of her persona(s). By containing clues to solving Laura's murder, her corpse embodies her mystery. From beyond the grave, Laura beckons investigators, on-screen as well as off-screen, to solve her murder. Yet, she also guards her secrets fiercely and struggles against additional layers of meaning. Finally, Laura's uncanny harbouring of multiple identities, her housing all these different female characters, has turned her body beastly, projecting the abject chaos within.
Keywords: Twin Peaks, abjection, female body, empty/unstable signifier, Lolita, Peyton Place, Monroe, Poe.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPerceiving Evil : Evil, Women and the Feminine
EditorsDavid Farnell, Rute Noiva, Kristen Smith
Number of pages11
Place of PublicationOxford, United Kingdom
PublisherInter-Disciplinary Press
Publication date2015
Pages21-31
ChapterPart I: Myths and Tales: Fear and Adoration in the Female
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-84888-005-4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Monstrosity
Corpse
Lolita
David Lynch
Chaos
Mystery
Murder
Abject
Persona
Marilyn Monroe
Regalia
Tragedy
Wizard
Homecoming
Sexual
Female Body
Aesthetic Object
Decay
Trademark
Viewer

Bibliographical note

This eBook chapter was based on the paper “Laura Palmer: A Monstrosity of Multiple Meanings” which I presented at the 6th Global Conference on Evil, Women and the Feminine in Lisbon in 2014. This chapter was expanded on in the chapter "Laura Palmer: Intertextual Temptress" in the eBook and printed book "Revisiting Female Evil: Power, Purity and Desire", edited by Melissa Dearey, Roger Davis, and Susana Nicolás. During the publication process, of "Revisiting Female Evil", Inter-Disciplinary Press closed down, and Brill/Rodopi took over.

Keywords

  • Twin Peaks
  • abjection
  • female body
  • Marilyn Monroe
  • The Wizard of Oz
  • David Lynch
  • Peyton Place
  • Grace Metalious
  • Lolita
  • Kubrick
  • Femicide
  • Murder
  • Murder Mystery
  • Demonic Women
  • Evil Women
  • Monstrous Women

Cite this

Pedersen, A. B. (2015). Laura Palmer: A Monstrosity of Multiple Meanings. In D. Farnell, R. Noiva, & K. Smith (Eds.), Perceiving Evil: Evil, Women and the Feminine (pp. 21-31). Oxford, United Kingdom: Inter-Disciplinary Press. https://doi.org/10.1163/9781848880054_004
Pedersen, Anne Bettina. / Laura Palmer: A Monstrosity of Multiple Meanings. Perceiving Evil: Evil, Women and the Feminine. editor / David Farnell ; Rute Noiva ; Kristen Smith. Oxford, United Kingdom : Inter-Disciplinary Press, 2015. pp. 21-31
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abstract = "Cocooned in plastic and bejewled with tiny pebbles, the corpse of Laura Palmer of David Lynch and Mark Frost's Twin Peaks (1990-1991) counters Julia Kristeva's definition of the abject cadaver. Instead of displaying signs of decay, Laura's corpse mirrors the iconic photograph of her in full Homecoming Queen regalia. Further, Laura echoes Edgar Allan Poe's concept of the female corpse as an aesthetic object, as her beautiful dead body provokes necrophiliac desires; death has not diminshed the sexual prowess of this lethal seductress. As this chapter explains, the confluence of tragedy and beauty proves a trademark of Lynch's, as his films portray 'troubled women.' Laura contains traces of other Lynchian females in trouble as well as elements of an abandoned project on Marilyn Monroe. Simultaneously deceased and ever-present, through doppelg{\"a}ngers, Laura defies logic ans signifies chaos by displaying both a lack of and an over-abundance of meaning. This chapter suggests that the numerous cultural references to written and visual texts such as, for instance, Victor Fleming's The Wizard of Oz (1939), Otto Preminger's Laura (944), Grace Metalious's Peyton Place (1956), and Stanley Kubrick's Lolita (1962) found in Twin Peaks cause Laura to become a monstrosity of multiple meanings, as evinced by her demonic transformation, warding off Agent Cooper/viewers trying to solve her mystery. Laura's simultaneous invitation to and struggle against the investigation of her secrets further complicate any critical analysis of her persona(s). By containing clues to solving Laura's murder, her corpse embodies her mystery. From beyond the grave, Laura beckons investigators, on-screen as well as off-screen, to solve her murder. Yet, she also guards her secrets fiercely and struggles against additional layers of meaning. Finally, Laura's uncanny harbouring of multiple identities, her housing all these different female characters, has turned her body beastly, projecting the abject chaos within.Keywords: Twin Peaks, abjection, female body, empty/unstable signifier, Lolita, Peyton Place, Monroe, Poe.",
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year = "2015",
doi = "10.1163/9781848880054_004",
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Pedersen, AB 2015, Laura Palmer: A Monstrosity of Multiple Meanings. in D Farnell, R Noiva & K Smith (eds), Perceiving Evil: Evil, Women and the Feminine. Inter-Disciplinary Press, Oxford, United Kingdom, pp. 21-31. https://doi.org/10.1163/9781848880054_004

Laura Palmer: A Monstrosity of Multiple Meanings. / Pedersen, Anne Bettina.

Perceiving Evil: Evil, Women and the Feminine. ed. / David Farnell; Rute Noiva; Kristen Smith. Oxford, United Kingdom : Inter-Disciplinary Press, 2015. p. 21-31.

Research output: Contribution to book/anthology/report/conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review

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T1 - Laura Palmer: A Monstrosity of Multiple Meanings

AU - Pedersen, Anne Bettina

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PY - 2015

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N2 - Cocooned in plastic and bejewled with tiny pebbles, the corpse of Laura Palmer of David Lynch and Mark Frost's Twin Peaks (1990-1991) counters Julia Kristeva's definition of the abject cadaver. Instead of displaying signs of decay, Laura's corpse mirrors the iconic photograph of her in full Homecoming Queen regalia. Further, Laura echoes Edgar Allan Poe's concept of the female corpse as an aesthetic object, as her beautiful dead body provokes necrophiliac desires; death has not diminshed the sexual prowess of this lethal seductress. As this chapter explains, the confluence of tragedy and beauty proves a trademark of Lynch's, as his films portray 'troubled women.' Laura contains traces of other Lynchian females in trouble as well as elements of an abandoned project on Marilyn Monroe. Simultaneously deceased and ever-present, through doppelgängers, Laura defies logic ans signifies chaos by displaying both a lack of and an over-abundance of meaning. This chapter suggests that the numerous cultural references to written and visual texts such as, for instance, Victor Fleming's The Wizard of Oz (1939), Otto Preminger's Laura (944), Grace Metalious's Peyton Place (1956), and Stanley Kubrick's Lolita (1962) found in Twin Peaks cause Laura to become a monstrosity of multiple meanings, as evinced by her demonic transformation, warding off Agent Cooper/viewers trying to solve her mystery. Laura's simultaneous invitation to and struggle against the investigation of her secrets further complicate any critical analysis of her persona(s). By containing clues to solving Laura's murder, her corpse embodies her mystery. From beyond the grave, Laura beckons investigators, on-screen as well as off-screen, to solve her murder. Yet, she also guards her secrets fiercely and struggles against additional layers of meaning. Finally, Laura's uncanny harbouring of multiple identities, her housing all these different female characters, has turned her body beastly, projecting the abject chaos within.Keywords: Twin Peaks, abjection, female body, empty/unstable signifier, Lolita, Peyton Place, Monroe, Poe.

AB - Cocooned in plastic and bejewled with tiny pebbles, the corpse of Laura Palmer of David Lynch and Mark Frost's Twin Peaks (1990-1991) counters Julia Kristeva's definition of the abject cadaver. Instead of displaying signs of decay, Laura's corpse mirrors the iconic photograph of her in full Homecoming Queen regalia. Further, Laura echoes Edgar Allan Poe's concept of the female corpse as an aesthetic object, as her beautiful dead body provokes necrophiliac desires; death has not diminshed the sexual prowess of this lethal seductress. As this chapter explains, the confluence of tragedy and beauty proves a trademark of Lynch's, as his films portray 'troubled women.' Laura contains traces of other Lynchian females in trouble as well as elements of an abandoned project on Marilyn Monroe. Simultaneously deceased and ever-present, through doppelgängers, Laura defies logic ans signifies chaos by displaying both a lack of and an over-abundance of meaning. This chapter suggests that the numerous cultural references to written and visual texts such as, for instance, Victor Fleming's The Wizard of Oz (1939), Otto Preminger's Laura (944), Grace Metalious's Peyton Place (1956), and Stanley Kubrick's Lolita (1962) found in Twin Peaks cause Laura to become a monstrosity of multiple meanings, as evinced by her demonic transformation, warding off Agent Cooper/viewers trying to solve her mystery. Laura's simultaneous invitation to and struggle against the investigation of her secrets further complicate any critical analysis of her persona(s). By containing clues to solving Laura's murder, her corpse embodies her mystery. From beyond the grave, Laura beckons investigators, on-screen as well as off-screen, to solve her murder. Yet, she also guards her secrets fiercely and struggles against additional layers of meaning. Finally, Laura's uncanny harbouring of multiple identities, her housing all these different female characters, has turned her body beastly, projecting the abject chaos within.Keywords: Twin Peaks, abjection, female body, empty/unstable signifier, Lolita, Peyton Place, Monroe, Poe.

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KW - Peyton Place

KW - Grace Metalious

KW - Lolita

KW - Kubrick

KW - Femicide

KW - Murder

KW - Murder Mystery

KW - Demonic Women

KW - Evil Women

KW - Monstrous Women

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Pedersen AB. Laura Palmer: A Monstrosity of Multiple Meanings. In Farnell D, Noiva R, Smith K, editors, Perceiving Evil: Evil, Women and the Feminine. Oxford, United Kingdom: Inter-Disciplinary Press. 2015. p. 21-31 https://doi.org/10.1163/9781848880054_004