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The Gothic

A Reader

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Edited By Simon Bacon

What is the Gothic?

From ghosts to vampires, from ruined castles to steampunk fashion, the Gothic is a term that evokes all things strange, haunted and sinister.

This volume offers a new look at the world of the Gothic, from its origins in the eighteenth century to its reemergence today. Each short essay is dedicated to a single text – a novel, a film, a comic book series, a festival – that serves as a lens to explore the genre. Original readings of classics like The Mysteries of Udolpho (Ann Radcliffe) and Picnic at Hanging Rock (Joan Lindsay) are combined with unique insights into contemporary examples like the music of Mexican rock band Caifanes, the novels Annihilation (Jeff VanderMeer), Goth (Otsuichi) and The Paying Guests (Sarah Waters), and the films Crimson Peak (Guillermo del Toro) and Ex Machina (Alex Garland).

Together the essays provide innovative ways of understanding key texts in terms of their Gothic elements. Invaluable for students, teachers and fans alike, the book’s accessible style allows for an engaging look at the spectral and uncanny nature of the Gothic.

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Max Brooks’s World War Z (2006) – Neoliberal Gothic (Linnie Blake)

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Linnie Blake

Max Brooks’s World War Z (2006)

Max Brooks’s 2006 novel World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War adopts the extended metaphor of zombie apocalypse as a means of exploring the failings of the neoliberal world and proposes a return to an earlier model of social and economic organization – a Keynesian New Deal for a post-apocalyptic post-neoliberal USA. ‘Neoliberal Gothic’ in this context refers to those texts that exemplify, explore, critique and challenge the social, political and psychological ramifications of thirty years of global neoliberalism, the Neoliberal Gothic monster of choice being the zombie. In literature this is seen, for example, in Jon Ajvide Lindqvist’s Handling the Undead (2009), Dust (2010) by Joan Frances Turner and M. R. Carey’s The Girl With All the Gifts (2014). Televisual examples include The Walking Dead (Darabont, 2010–present) and Z Nation (Schaefer and Engler, 2014–present) and films range from Land of the Dead (Romero, 2005) to Dead Man Working (Salas, 2013) and beyond.1 The novel crosses continents and, in so doing, foregrounds the ways in which the zombie contagion both emerges from and is spread by global inequality. As such, it functions as a knowing exploration of the neoliberal underpinnings of contemporary geopolitics and the impact of this on the world and its inhabitants. Marc Forster’s 2013 film of the same name is a rather different proposition, however. Retaining the novel’s title whilst eschewing its plot(s), characters, story, key locations...

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