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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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Intersections and Metamorphoses of the ‘Female Gothic’

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Abstract: Between the 1790s and the 1820s, more than fifty women writers wrote in what we now call the Gothic genre. Since that time until the present, Gothic literature appealed to female writers not just as authors but also as critics and as readers. In this essay, I would suggest some critical approaches to the Gothic as debated by women writers who firstly employed this genre during the peak of production and circulation in England. They were actively involved into a larger discussion on the genesis and hybridisation of the Gothic, outlining its origin, aims, forms and language with the purpose of mapping the aesthetic principles of this form from their own points of view. In particular, I am referring to Clara Reeve, Anna Laetitia Barbauld and Ann Radcliffe, who were all successful authors but also sharp critics. Altogether the three writers advanced interesting theoretical ideologies of the Gothic. Published in 1785, Clara Reeve’s The Progress of Romance offers one of the first histories of prose fiction and the first straightforward attempt to elevate romance to the status of serious literature. In “On the Pleasure Derived from Objects of Terrors” (1773), Anna Laetitia Barbauld describes Gothic fiction as the narrative which “awakens the mind, and keeps it on the stretch.” And Ann Radcliffe, who first announced a new age of Gothic romance, placed mystery at the centre of its thematic, rhetorical, and moral projection in her essay entitled “On the Supernatural in Poetry” (1826). The present essay thus...

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