Parnassus English Club’s Book of the Month Discussion

Andrew Dawson, Staff Writer and Abigail Hubbard, Copy Editor |

The English Department held their book of the month discussion on Campus Connection on Apr. 1. The book of the month was the classic horror story, “The Silence of the Lambs.” In this discussion, students analyzed the story to learn more about why people are fascinated with the cannibalistic serial killer, Dr. Hannibal Lecter.

SUNY Oneonta media studies professor, Dr. Laura Felschow, started the discussion by asking students to give their ratings on “The Silence of the Lambs”. The majority of students gave the horror story three out of five stars because they already watched the movie. Many of the attendees believe the book couldn’t manufacture the same thrilling sensation that the film portrayed. They also believed the book would have been a better reading experience if they didn’t see the movie and didn’t know the plot.

Then, Dr. Felschow asked the group why they believe Hannibal Lecter is a staple in our everyday media. This cannibalistic character is in many other television shows and movies besides “The Silence of the Lambs” (1991) such as “Hannibal” (2001), “Red Dragon” (2002), and “Hannibal Rising” (2007). The group agreed that people have a strange fascination with serial killers, likely because of curiosity about their psychology. Others believed it’s because of the character itself. Lecter has charismatic and contradicting tendencies that people are fascinated with.

The conversation later transitioned into the role of gender in the book. Clarice Starling is one of the main characters and the only important female character throughout the story. Starling is a very confident character and has a great amount of anger that isn’t displayed in the movie. Starling is also placed in many intimidating situations like being the only female in the room, though, she never lets it get to her. Starling is such a powerful character in the book because she takes matters into her own hands, oblivious to the high-risk situations that she is facing.

At the end of the discussion, the group focused on Buffalo Bill and the dangers the character portrays for the transgender community. Early in his childhood, Buffalo Bill wanted to be considered a woman but is denied a sex change operation. As a result, Bill starts killing and skinning women to create his own female bodysuit to wear. This can be an incredibly harmful stigma for the transgender community. This character is a serial killer focusing on becoming transgender which may hurt the transgender community. Author Thomas Harris may have thought this was a good idea, but he never considered the negative impacts it could have on the transgender community. Students believed that the book could have been written without bringing transgenderism into the plot. They believed the book still would have been successful and may have even captured a better emotional experience with the readers.

“The Silence of the Lambs” is an important book in our culture and it’s important people read it. The book destroys certain stigmas like a woman can’t be the main character in a book. It also helps show our culture’s fascination with murder mysteries and serial killers. Overall, “The Silence of the Lambs” is a great book and I highly recommend it to others.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.