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Gothic Metamorphoses across the Centuries

Contexts, Legacies, Media

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Edited By Maurizio Ascari, Serena Baiesi and David Levente Palatinus

This collection of essays brings together an international team of scholars with the aim to shed new light on various interconnected aspects of the Gothic through the lens of converging critical and methodological approaches. With its wide-ranging interdisciplinary perspective, the book explores the domains of literary, pictorial, filmic, televisual and popular cultural texts in English from the eighteenth century to the present day. Within these pages, the Gothic is discussed as a dynamic form that exceeds the concept of literary genre, proving able to renovate and adapt through constant processes of hybridisation. Investigating the hypothesis that the Gothic returns in times of cultural crisis, this study maps out transgressive and experimental modes conducive to alternative experiences of the intricacies of the human (and post-human) condition.

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Introduction: Why Yet Another Book on the Gothic?

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We have chosen a provocative question to introduce a new critical investigation of a territory that seems to have been thoroughly mapped in recent years1. The amount of studies that have been recently devoted to the Gothic is daunting, but then equally impressive is the dissemination of the Gothic in contemporary literature and culture, which justifies William Hughes’s remark that the Gothic “has truly become an international currency, a phenomenon that knows no tangible frontiers” (2013 2). Far from belonging to the past, the Gothic is very much part of our present-day global imagination, which it pervades under a variety of guises, from horror to the psycho thriller and sci-fi, not only reviving ghosts of the past, but also evoking those of our imagined futures.

One can safely claim that the symbolizing power of the Gothic is unabated because of its ability to give voice to forms of otherness that are inextricably rooted in the human. From its origins to the contemporary age, the Gothic has preserved an ambivalent status as simultaneous transgression of boundaries and brave exploration of the great unsaid – of what societies have repeatedly confined to the collective unconscious in terms of class, gender, family and race relations. Jerrold E. Hogle puts this in a nutshell when he defines the Gothic as “a haunting and unsettling – somehow horrifying – sideshow in the development of modernity” (2014 ix-x), while Andrew Smith underlines the Gothic’s relevance to postmodernism insofar as it “questions the notion that one...

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